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Thread: Cleric Spheres

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    Default Cleric Spheres

    Recently, while digging through old AD&D books (for adventure ideas and fluff, I have no idea how the rules actually work), I stumbled upon the idea of spheres for cleric spell access. Since I didn't understand the term, I looked it up online.

    Basically, for the uninitiated:
    An AD&D cleric doesn't get every spell on the cleric list + his domain spells. Instead, every spell is in a sphere, which is similar to 3.Xs domains. The cleric only gets spells from his spheres.
    So, if you where a cleric of Pelor, there would be a Sun sphere, a Healing Sphere and a Good sphere, and you would only get spells from those.


    Would it be a good idea to bring that idea back to 3.X as a house rule? It would especially mean that non-war clerics aren't overpowered divine killing machines, and that all clerics would be more limited.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    It's a good idea if you use the list of 3e domains as a jumping-off point to end up with lots of spheres as you suggested, rather than directly translating the system 2e had (since having only a handful of spheres doesn't change much), but the sheer number of spells is what usually holds back any attempt to do it. Unless you want to just say "Fire sphere gets all fire-descriptor spells, Plant sphere gets all plant-related spells," and so on, which is kind of a cop-out and either doesn't really allow for either some diversity within a sphere (getting all [Good] spells isn't too useful) or doesn't really limit them enough (what qualifies as a "war spell"?).

    I've actually been working on such a project myself, because I'm going through all the 3e spells anyway for a revision project of mine and figured I might as well do spheres while I'm at it, but I haven't had a chance to work on it in a while and I'm still in the E's. I can attest to how time-consuming and complex it can be. It would be an interesting project for the Playground, though; give everyone a sphere, have each person go through several books and pick the spells that would go with their sphere, and you could cut down the time and effort drastically.
    Last edited by PairO'Dice Lost; 2010-07-14 at 07:30 AM.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    True, true.

    I actually looked over the core cleric spells and domains only, at it seems there are only about two or three spells per level and domain in there. That's not enough, I'd think.

    On the other hand, going through Spell Compendium is monstrous.

    Perhaps a few people can work together on this? Everyone takes one letter, or so?

    Edit: Note to self: finish reading posts before answering. Really.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2010-07-14 at 07:32 AM.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    True, true.

    I actually looked over the core cleric spells and domains only, at it seems there are only about two or three spells per level and domain in there. That's not enough, I'd think.
    Yeah, you really have to use 3 or 4 books before using this system of spheres becomes worth the effort. If you're just using the PHB, something like 2e's three or four major spheres and a few minor spheres would work better.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    I usually use "all books" in my games anyway, so that should be okay.


    So, anyone else up for this project?
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Are you going to do away with spontaneous cure/inflict under this system?

    Are clerics going to get access to all their deities domains as spheres or will they have to choose 2?

    Are you planning on doing a "Universal" Sphere? A sphere that includes a subset of spells that all gods can grant. I think in AD&D they called it the "All" sphere. if so, what types of spells would you include?

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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    I'm still thinking this through, really.

    Basically; I can't think of any spell that would have to be universal. Already not every cleric can cure, and why should they?

    Now, something like spontaneous curing would make a nice domain power, however. Perhaps every domain could have another domain power, to balance the loss of versatility a little? Healing clerics could heal spontaneously.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    An added domain power could be pretty cool.

    The more I think about this, the more questions pop up.

    I guess I'm wondering at the intended power level you want clerics to end up at by doing a change like this. Because it seems like they'd be roughly equal to a Favored Soul if all Clerics were limited to 2-3 spheres, if you're going for a more straight domain to sphere conversion.

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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    I think that Fax Celestis has been working on bringing back spheres with the d20r system. You should check it out.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Yeah... I dislike d20r for several other reasons, though.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    I've been thinking about doing this for a while; what has put me off is the enormity of the task. Maybe I'll do it next week

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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Now, something like spontaneous curing would make a nice domain power, however. Perhaps every domain could have another domain power, to balance the loss of versatility a little? Healing clerics could heal spontaneously.
    If the cleric spell list is limited to 2-3 spells of each level, then they're most likely spontaneous casters already.
    Last edited by Prime32; 2010-07-14 at 09:29 AM.

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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Another question is whether you'd want to keep the major/minor access feature (minor access grants 1/2 the spells in the sphere, which in 3e would mean you can cast up to 4th level spells from that sphere). It helps differentiate gods a bit (several gods could have the Death sphere, for instance, but perhaps only the God of Death grants major access) and would open up the possibility of having two sphere powers, one major and one minor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Now, something like spontaneous curing would make a nice domain power, however. Perhaps every domain could have another domain power, to balance the loss of versatility a little? Healing clerics could heal spontaneously.
    The major/minor access feature would be a good way to do this. A cleric with minor access to Healing would be one who worships a god with the Healing sphere who happens to pick up Healing, so they'd get a minor benefit, whereas someone who picks up major access to Healing would be a dedicated healer and so would get spontaneous healing (or something like that).

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime32 View Post
    If the cleric spell list is limited to 2-3 spells of each level, then they're most likely spontaneous casters already.
    I don't see why it would be that limited; I thought the idea was to take the entire cleric list over all books and apply the sphere system to that. That's the sort of scenario where limiting the spell list would make more sense.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    So would you be killing of domains totally? I do like major and minor spheres though.. Gain an added power from each? Like dice said, where you major healing could still cast spontaneous.. But how many spells do they get per level? And do spells come from only a sphere or two they select? Or any sphere that their god can grant access to?
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Quote Originally Posted by mrcarter11 View Post
    So would you be killing of domains totally? I do like major and minor spheres though.. Gain an added power from each? Like dice said, where you major healing could still cast spontaneous.. But how many spells do they get per level? And do spells come from only a sphere or two they select? Or any sphere that their god can grant access to?
    All spheres might be too much; the main benefit is focusing the spell list, and if a cleric of Obad Hai, for instance, has access to all of his seven or more spheres and most of the other gods have four or five, that sort of defeats the purpose. Personally, if we're using the major/minor system, I'd give each cleric a major and a minor sphere to start with, then when they get access to 5th level spells (and thus get fewer spells known due to having only 1 sphere with major access) they could add a second minor sphere.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Ok.. that makes some sense. But once they gain access to the second sphere wouldn't they know all of its spells since it's a minor sphere and their level lets them know all their minor spells? I mean, that's a lot of spells a once to give someone.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Yeah... I dislike d20r for several other reasons, though.
    Like what? I like making things people like, so I generally want to hear about people's gripes with the system so I can address them.

    And anyway, the d20r cleric class is pretty much usable in a regular 3.5 game, if you just remove the Prowess line and give it the old skill list.

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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    A suggestion for an organization:


    Major Spheres:
    Every god has two major spheres which define them. Clerics can cast spells from the god's major spheres at the indicated level. Furthermore, they can choose one of these two spheres and gain the greater sphere ability of that sphere.


    Minor spheres:
    Furthermore, every god has a number of minor spheres depending on the god's power level. A cleric can select three (?) minor spheres belonging to their god. They can cast spells from those selected spheres at one level higher than indicated in the sphere (so a 3rd level spell would take a 4th level slot). Furthermore, the cleric gains the lesser sphere ability of the selected spheres, as well as his non-selected major sphere.


    I decided to do it this way because it seemed strange to me that a cleric would cast minor sphere spells normally until level 7, at which point they no longer would get any new ones. This way, the minor sphere spells are always around, but weaker than major sphere spells.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Fax: I must admit I've not read a lot of d20r, and I can't comment on everything, but from what I've seen, my problem with it is quite simple:

    There are a lot of abilities that are useful in combat, but very little utility, at least in the classes I've read. The sorcerer can fight, but not much else, and pretty much the same for the Cartomancer. I, on the other hand, prefer characters to be as versatile as possible, with a lot of trickery and abilities out of combat, and at least the classes I've read didn't have much of that.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Fax: I must admit I've not read a lot of d20r, and I can't comment on everything, but from what I've seen, my problem with it is quite simple:

    There are a lot of abilities that are useful in combat, but very little utility, at least in the classes I've read. The sorcerer can fight, but not much else, and pretty much the same for the Cartomancer. I, on the other hand, prefer characters to be as versatile as possible, with a lot of trickery and abilities out of combat, and at least the classes I've read didn't have much of that.
    It's funny you should mention those two classes specifically: they're actually on the chopping block for 'initial release' as they have some intrinsic problems that I want to address. I'm probably going to be bumping them back to a second release (sort of like the PHB-II, I suppose).

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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    It's funny you should mention those two classes specifically: they're actually on the chopping block for 'initial release' as they have some intrinsic problems that I want to address. I'm probably going to be bumping them back to a second release (sort of like the PHB-II, I suppose).
    is the dreadnaught going into the initial release?

    anyway, i think that as far as spheres go, a big part of being a cleric is still healing and dealing with undead. i think that nomatter what, a cleric should be able to spontaneously cast heal/inflict spells.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    And I ask: why?
    As a cleric of Obad-Hai, you majored in trees and herbs, with a minor in fire and weather patterns. Why should you be able to heal? Wizards can't spontaneously cast fireball, and that's just as iconic.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Quote Originally Posted by mrcarter11 View Post
    Ok.. that makes some sense. But once they gain access to the second sphere wouldn't they know all of its spells since it's a minor sphere and their level lets them know all their minor spells? I mean, that's a lot of spells a once to give someone.
    They would; the increased number of lower-level spells compensates for having fewer higher-level spells available. Like I said, it's only what I'd do; it's not the only possibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    A suggestion for an organization:


    Major Spheres:
    Every god has two major spheres which define them. Clerics can cast spells from the god's major spheres at the indicated level. Furthermore, they can choose one of these two spheres and gain the greater sphere ability of that sphere.


    Minor spheres:
    Furthermore, every god has a number of minor spheres depending on the god's power level. A cleric can select three (?) minor spheres belonging to their god. They can cast spells from those selected spheres at one level higher than indicated in the sphere (so a 3rd level spell would take a 4th level slot). Furthermore, the cleric gains the lesser sphere ability of the selected spheres, as well as his non-selected major sphere.


    I decided to do it this way because it seemed strange to me that a cleric would cast minor sphere spells normally until level 7, at which point they no longer would get any new ones. This way, the minor sphere spells are always around, but weaker than major sphere spells.
    The reasons I like the minor spheres stopping at a certain level are (A) that's how AD&D did it (just putting that out there ) and (B) it makes more sense from a portfolio standpoint, since the God of Healing would probably be much better than others at granting healing and there would be some healing powers that other Healing gods just can't grant, as opposed to being able to use all but 9th level spells at a spell level cost.

    anyway, i think that as far as spheres go, a big part of being a cleric is still healing and dealing with undead. i think that nomatter what, a cleric should be able to spontaneously cast heal/inflict spells.
    Yes, the cleric was almost defined by turning undead and healing. The priest, however, the class in 2e of which the cleric was a sub-class, was not.

    With the way spheres and sub-classes worked, if you took spheres that let you cast anti-undead spells, hit things with maces, and heal, you were a cleric and gained some other minor benefits. (And, by the way, there was no spontaneous casting in AD&D, so always needing to be able to spontaneously cast isn't a big deal, whether you're spontaneously healing or doing something else.) If you took spheres that let you grow plants, control the weather, and manipulate animals, you were a druid and gained some other minor benefits. There are far more archetypes to cover with a sphere system than just the undead-smiting team-healing mace-wielding warpriest.
    Last edited by PairO'Dice Lost; 2010-07-14 at 12:00 PM.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Well thank you dice for clearing that up.. I now like this idea more.. Perhaps we can move forward with it? Like decide as to how many spells per level per sphere. How many spheres, some say two or three and some want more. Should we grant a power to them for minor spheres or only major spheres?
    Lots of questions to making this.. But I do think it would work a lot better.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    And I ask: why?
    As a cleric of Obad-Hai, you majored in trees and herbs, with a minor in fire and weather patterns. Why should you be able to heal? Wizards can't spontaneously cast fireball, and that's just as iconic.
    well, since you are trying to bring back the old spheres to 3.X, you are changing a spell list, and also removing a major class feature. most parties, especially low level ones, have a cleric for the healing (everything else is a great plus, but someone needs to at least be able to use a wand of Cure (X) wounds)

    what if cure spells were also not on the spell list, but a good cleric can spontaneously do a cure spell and evil can spontaneously inflict? that would still prevent a good cleric from preparing an inflict spell, and vice versa
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    One of my main problems with that is that cosmologically, positive and negative energy are neutral forces. That's a fluff problem, though.

    Really, though: if you need a party healer, can't your cleric just take a god of healing? I think they should be more versatile than that. I've seen parties of four rogues working well, not everyone needs a healbot.
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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Any thoughts on where you want the Cleric to end up power-wise in the Tier system?

    I mean I think we can all agree that using this varient will be a nerf. I think it would be useful to have a power range in mind when we talk about granting sphere powers et al.

    At the moment if you are restricted to having one Major, and one Minor sphere that you still have to memorize spells for, I'd have to say you're probably weaker than a Favored Soul. Favored Souls sit at what, Tier 2?

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    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Well, aiming at 2 or 3 is probably the best idea. Favoured souls are tier 3.

    And how weak they are really depends on how many spheres they get. If they get only one each, they'll only have a handful of spells to memorize. I don't think that's enough.


    As for the level 4 vs. spell level cost thing: what I dislike about the whole level 4 max aspect is that a low level cleric is unaffected by it. And quite a few people play low-level only.
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    Flumph

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    Feb 2010
    Location
    Fort Wayne
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Well, aiming at 2 or 3 is probably the best idea. Favoured souls are tier 3.

    And how weak they are really depends on how many spheres they get. If they get only one each, they'll only have a handful of spells to memorize. I don't think that's enough.


    As for the level 4 vs. spell level cost thing: what I dislike about the whole level 4 max aspect is that a low level cleric is unaffected by it. And quite a few people play low-level only.
    Ok that sounds good to me as far as power level, and of course you are correct when you say it depends on many spheres they get. In AD&D Classic Clerics got quite a few spheres. The Specialty Priests that came out later often had wide difference in the number and quality of Spheres they had access to.
    I seem to remember that having minor access to the Astral Sphere was useless, since the lowest level Astral Spell was 5th level. lol

    In my opinion the first thing to do would be to decide how many spheres the cleric will end up having access to.
    As a compromise with what you said a few posts ago, how about letting them Meta-magic Minor Access Spheres into higher spell slots for "free". Similar to what a Beguiler gets (different thematic metas, of course).

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Cleric Spheres

    Bringing back the Spheres is somthing Ive always wanted to do. having a cleric character have instant access to all divine spells is way to OP. Yes I know druids have their own spells, but then agian the druid was, and still should be, an alternat form of cleric.

    Not only do I think it would work better for the system in general it fits with how I think divine magic should work. Back in AD&D we let clerics cast any spell they wanted. No memorizing. They where not exactly a spell powerhouse and its damned silly of a cleric is asking their god for preset spells for a day. A cleric does not 'cast spells', they pray to their god(s). Every 'spell' should be seen as a prayer.

    For context use only I refer to Moses and the twelve aposltes. They did not prepare spells they asked for gods assistance when they needed it.

    Now D&D's god system uses polytheistic god system. For lack of better phrasing. This is in the style of greek, egyptian, and norse myth. Every god had their domanes. Some had very few some and many, and they often shared. Ethina and Aries shared war for example.

    For the past year my group is trying to enforce the prepared spells for clerics agian. 3rd ed's way of doing clerics makes this mandatory just to run a fair game.

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