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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    Clerics have been a controversial element in D&D for as long as I can remember, especially since the Fantasyland crowd has embraced the newer editions, and the older ones were fully embraced by sword and sorcery fans. And with the setting I am setting up, I don't really feel happy with the cleric class either.

    Looking closely at the Cleric in B/X-BECMI, I am wondering how much leaving healing effects to alchemical potions might actually be viable.

    A 7th level Cleric could either prepare two cure light wounds spells and one cure serious wounds spell, or two cure light wounds spells and one neutralize poison spell (which revives someone who just died from instant-kill poison). And that would mean using all 1st and 4th level spell slots only for healing and nothing else. And characters are dead immediately once they drop, so (except for neutralize poison), healing spells can't be used to save dying characters from death anyway.
    So I think unless the campaign runs relatively long, most clerics would have only one cure light wounds spell prepared most of the time, to cure 2-7 hit points.

    When you're floating in money, that you save up to buy yourself a castle one day maybe, I think having alchemist sell healing potions might actually a fully viable alternative approach to magical healing in a campaign.
    Remove fear could easily be made into a wizard spell (though it's really not that amazing working only on a single target) and protection from evil and remove curse are already wizard spells. The remaining cleric spells aren't really that interesting to begin with.

    Turning undead can of course be huge for a party that encounters large numbers of weak undead, but that is easily addressed by just not throwing regular undead hordes against them.

    For people with more experience with the system: How viable is it to run campaigns in which clerics simply don't exist? (But alchemical potions of the various healing spells are available.)
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

    Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor - Writing Sword & Sorcery
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Faily's Avatar

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    Default Re: Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    Sure, but when you're out adventuring you're not able to just "buy" alchemical potions to heal your wounds. You may have bought them beforehand, but you once you run out, you're out.

    When natural healing is 1HP per day, it takes a long time to recover after a fight. So while a Cleric can't save dying party members easily, they're still essential for healing up after a fight, and unlike the potions, their spells get refreshed after they have prayed for new spells.


    If you're going to remove Clerics, then you might also need to consider other ways than just potions. Improving natural healing in various ways, or allowing PCs to forage for "healing potion" components...
    Last edited by Faily; 2021-03-11 at 09:21 AM.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    Basic adventures had a staff of healing as a common drop - each staff could cure 1d8 hit points to a person per day - to any number of people. So if you have 5 staffs that is 5d8 for each party member.

    Expert rules addded some charge-based more powerful heals as well.

    I did try running a "no casters campaign" (3.5 Ed) with lots of spellike abilities and magic items. I made alchemical potions of temporary healing available (very controllable in how much was used, lasted about 8 hours iirc) and the party never tried using them at all.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    Just IMO, I think you're going to see a Lot more fatality if you don't have clerics, and eventually your players are going to get unhappy. Is there some gameplay reason you don't like them, or is it that you don't like "magical" healing?

    If you don't want to completely ditch "magical" healing, you could just grab the existing cure spells and maybe make them available at a higher level. I usually use the 5e spell slot system, and it's easy to have Cure Wounds as a MU spell that can be cast with a higher level slot. There are options.

    For undead, 3e and PF have a MU spell called "Disrupt Undead":
    "You must make a ranged touch attack to hit, and if the ray hits an undead creature, it deals 1d6 points of damage to it"

    Just change to a "normal" spell and adjust the damage to scale with level and Bob's your uncle.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    I don't really see how big a different a Basic cleric really can make.

    At 1st level, which is the most lethal by far, clerics don't have any spells.

    At 5th level, when characters are well along their way, a cleric still can only heal 2d6+2 hit points per day. That's 9 hp on average (at a range of 4 to 14). If that cleric might maybe sometimes cast other 1st level spells, that falls down to 2-7 hp.
    Say you're in a party of two fighters, two thieves, a cleric, and a wizard around 5th level, you're looking at a combined hp pool of around 110. If the party is badly beaten up and the six of them have maybe 30 hp left between them, that one cure light wounds is not going to change the world.

    Resting in town to fully recover while take longer (a party of 6 recovers an average of 12 hp per day), but it's not a huge difference.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

    Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor - Writing Sword & Sorcery
    Spriggan's Den Heroic Fantasy Roleplaying

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    Another option is to simply fold the cleric spell list into the magic-user one. So, magic-users get Cure Light Wounds, Bless, etc. If you want, you might advance thieves to be d6 HD, having them form the mechanical bridge between fighters and magic-users (I've long beat the "Thieves are too weak" drum, so this position should come as no surprise to anyone). Turn Undead can become a spell, or even an ability available to all with a holy symbol.
    The Cranky Gamer
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    Silence 15' is a classic for a few jobs: Ultra-stealth mode. Wizard killing (prevents casting). Maybe there's an odd critter with a sonic attack? (not sure on that last one.)

    Protection from evil is a classic for protecting indispensable but squishy NPCs from lots of nasties on escort missions. "Why doesn't the demon just kill him instead of trying to convince him to step off the path?"

    From memory, bless and dispel evil are spells which are needed to counter specific kinds of effects.
    Along with curing diseases, neutralizing poisons and removing curses, they could be outsourced to alchemist/shaman/wise-woman type NPCs if you wanted.

    You could also have them do things like "Locating Charms" so instead of the cleric casting locate object, the PCs have a different way to use that toolkit of options.

    The less tools they have, the less likely the party is to surprise you with a solution you didn't think of. That's a mixed blessing - A lot of the most fun sessions occur when the GM is having to wing it and having found a better solution than you expected is a fairly easy way of making your players feel clever. But it's easier to prepare for predictable parties.
    I love playing in a party with a couple of power-gamers, it frees me up to be Elan!


  8. - Top - End - #8
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    Protection from evil and locate object are both wizard spells.

    I think the thing that really doesn't sit with me about the mechanics is the ability to make serious injuries dosappear as if they'd never been there with the snap of a finger and no cost (other than the opportunity cost of not having another spell prepared).
    That's just something you don't see in fantasy outside of game mechanics. (And fantast that makes no attempt to disguise that it's based in game mechanics.)

    Mechanically, potions do the same thing. But subjectively I feel that the long creation time to make the potion originally, and the fact that you can physically see a limited resource disappear does make a real difference to the overall tone, even when the supply of potions is plenty.

    From that perspective, it could also be interesting to have healing potions take a full turn to work instead of being instantly. Though when they heal only 2-7 hp and take up a round of combat, even a warrior with only 30 hp won't go from severely injured to unharmed. So maybe that's unnecessary overkill.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

    Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor - Writing Sword & Sorcery
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Mechanically, potions do the same thing. But subjectively I feel that the long creation time to make the potion originally, and the fact that you can physically see a limited resource disappear does make a real difference to the overall tone, even when the supply of potions is plenty.

    From that perspective, it could also be interesting to have healing potions take a full turn to work instead of being instantly. Though when they heal only 2-7 hp and take up a round of combat, even a warrior with only 30 hp won't go from severely injured to unharmed. So maybe that's unnecessary overkill.
    Another option is to have low-level potions that work differently, or have potential side-effects.

    In Hackmaster, there are two alcoholic beverages that will restore HP when consumed. Honeybrew is a fortified wine made with herbs. Drinking it will cure 1d4-2 HP per glass, but only up to 5 HP a day. Healing that way is expensive and slow, but faster than standard healing. Liver Squeezings, on the other hand, are made from the liver of an owlbeast. They're rare, relatively expensive, and have a cumulative chance of making you blind for a while... but they heal 1d6 hp per drink, with no maximum, if you're willing to suffer a little temporary blindness.

    You might also throw in some "pre-healing" options... temporary HP that last for a while, from different sources.
    One I suggested years ago on Dragonsfoot is

    "After a full night's rest, each day you heal one HD plus your Constitution modifier in HP. If you had a full day's rest or help from a (mundane) healer, roll one additional HD, taking the best roll for your daily healing. If you were already at full health before starting the rest, that HD plus Con modifier is bonus HP for the day."
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2021-03-13 at 12:40 PM.
    The Cranky Gamer
    *It isn't realism, it's verisimilitude; the appearance of truth within the framework of the game.
    *Picard management tip: Debate honestly. The goal is to arrive at the truth, not at your preconception.
    *Two Tales of Tellene, available from DriveThruFiction
    *The One Deck Engine: Gaming on a budget
    Avatar is from local user Mehangel
    Written by Me on DriveThru RPG
    If you need me to address a thread as a moderator, include a link.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: Basic/Expert campaigns without Clerics

    I always wanted to do more with potions. A potion that gives you extra hp that you might not actually nee before it ends sounds very fun.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

    Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor - Writing Sword & Sorcery
    Spriggan's Den Heroic Fantasy Roleplaying

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