Divine Favor: The Cleric (PFRPG) PDF (based on
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The cleric has a vital yet complex role within a party: healer, wizard, fighter, and bane of the undead. Divine Favor: The Cleric is an invaluable resource to anyone wanting to play one of the oldest character classes in fantasy roleplaying.
Designed by Stefen Styrsky with additional design by Wolfgang Baur, Divine Favor: The Cleric is the fourth in the Divine Favor series that also covers druid, paladin, inquisitor and oracle. This volume includes:
How to make the most of your cleric
New domains: Alchemy, Apocalypse, and Prophecy
New subdomains: Books, Entropy, Exorcism, Gambling, Horoscope, Lies, Potion, Transmutation, Truth, and Weapons
This pdf is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving 17 pages of content, so let's check out the new tools for the cleric, shall we?
The pdf starts by providing some basic advice on playing a cleric before going on to introduce 3 new domains with 2 subdomains each: The Alchemy, Apocalypse and Prophecy domains along 10 new sub-domains - 4 of which belong to the new sub-domains. The new domains pleasantly surprised me, as the unique abilities make the domains viable and cool options, thus I would have loved to see all of the subdomains covered this way, but oh well. When compared to Divine Favor: Druid, these domains all come with more enticing, creative ideas and especially the Alchemy and Apocalypse domains just rock hard. Kudos where kudos are due!
After that, we are introduced to new archetypes and seeing how I was left singularly unimpressed by the archetypes in the druid-installment, I was quite surprised to see some neat ideas here: The ascetic, a kind of beggar-cleric and a rather complex archetype can use his abstinence and sacrifice spells to grant his body enhancements and even boost her physical scores. Neat idea, though especially the ability to do the latter and the LACK OF RESTRICTIONS make this problematic. Seeing that the ascetic can wear magical items and suffers from no restrictions regarding her possessions, double-boosting attributes and exploitation-possibilities are rather rampant here. A code of conduct/restrictions would have helped here.
I did like the enthusiast, a spell-less cleric blessed with holy anger and divine defenses, especially for low-magic settings. For high magic, the lack of spells is rather restricting. The Exorcist lacks the ability to exorcise demons, but can detect evil and gets some additional spontaneous spellcasting.... .... ...Do I have to comment that one? the Flagellant and Theosophist on the other hand are interesting - in contrast to the KQ-flagellant-PrC, this archetype is a cleric that can power spells with self-inflicted damage and the Theosophist is a learned, bookish caster. The other archetypes like vatic, weapon-sworn etc. left me rather unimpressed.
We also get 8 variant channeling effects that mostly are cool and well-thought out/balanced and provide for a fun time. i wish ths section had been larger/covered more domains.
The pdf closes with 6 new spells, half of which deal with luck and a particularly interesting one that lets you ignore symbols and alter them as well as a very smart spell that lets you decrease the duration of ongoing magical effects - very cool and rather smart, although I don't get why Inquisitors don't get access to this particular spell.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column, parchment-like look. The pdf does not come with a printer-friendly b/w-version, but with extensive bookmarks. Artworks are stock and fit the theme nicely. This one is hard - on the one hand, I really liked the new domains and subdomains, though I think the section could have been even better. I also liked the new variant channeling effects and have no complaints about the smart, cool spells. However, I do have a complaint about the greatly varying quality of the archetypes, which range from cool to "how do you forget to include exorcisms with an exorcist?". Some. like the Vatic (a divination-specialized cleric) are exceedingly bland, their niche filled without an archetype by standard clerics or...well...diviners and oracles. When all is said and done, none of the abilities truly confused me, but I didn't notice one singularly bold design like the ability of the Druid to turn into a flock of creatures. Nevertheless, this installment of Divine Favor felt like it was slightly more compelling than the one focused on the druid. My final verdict will thus be 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 - an ok buy, especially for cleric fans looking for some additional options.
This product is 20 pages long. It starts with a cover, ToC, and credits. (2 pages)
The Cleric (1 ½ pages)
It starts off looking at the class, it's spells, channeling, multiclassing etc.
New Domains (4 ½ pages)
There is three new domains and ten new subdomains, below is a list of them.
Alchemy – little of the alchemist bomb ability.
Apocalypse – about seeing and bringing doom.
Prophecy – glimpsing the future.
Books (Subdomain) – limited other spells.
Exorcism (Subdomain) – lets you cast out spirits possessing others.
Horoscope (Subdomain) – grant people bonuses by telling them their horoscope.
Lies (Subdomain) – better illusions.
Potion (Subdomain) – drink a potion, touch a friend and both get the effects.
Transmutation (Subdomain) – boost others physical stats.
Weapons (Subdomain) – gain more weapons.
New Archetypes (7 ½ pages)
Ascetic – perfection of the body.
Charismatic – limited inspiring ability and leadership.
Enthusiast – gives up spell casting and armor for other defense and offensive abilities.
Exorcist – bonus against outsiders.
Flagellant – believes pain and suffering bring understanding. Bonuses to spell casting for self damage and later gain DR and other things to make them tougher.
Theosophist – worst armor, weapons, and hp. Gain more domains, spell bonuses and skills.
Vatic – gains all divination spells from the wizard list.
Weapon Sworn – very good with their deities weapon.
Wonder Worker – loses a domain, gains spell like abilities.
Variant Channeling and new Spells (3 ½ pages)
Each of the new domains and subdomains have a variant channeling option. There is also 6 new spells. Three of them deal with luck, one lets you interact with symbols with out triggering them, one gives a bonus to reading and using scrolls, and the last one shorten the duration of other spells.
It ends with a OGL. (1 pages)
Closing thoughts. The art work was a mix of color and black and white, it was ok. Layout and editing where very good I didn't notice any errors. The new domains where all very cool, the new archetypes where a bit more hit and miss. Most I like, a couple was meh and one I just felt had the wrong powers and that’s the Exorcist. I would have liked to have seen it have powers like perhaps forcing a possessed creature to temporarily give up controls, maybe another to force the possessed creature to tell the truth and reveal things about it's self etc. I think those would have fit a lot better than the powers it had about detecting outsiders, evil etc. The new variant channeling was solid, the spells where ok, though I did really like Wind Down the one that shortens durations. So what's my rating? It is a solid product and what is good tends to be very good, but there is a few meh in here as well. So I am going to give this one a 4 star review.
“Divine Favor: Cleric” presents new options for clerics. It has new spells, new ways to channel energy, new feats, new domains, new sub-domains, and new archetypes, fitting everything into just 17 pages! (Plus front and back covers, and the table of contents page, for a total of 20 pages in the .pdf).
This booklet starts off with a brief discussion and analysis of the cleric class. This technique was quite effective in Advanced Feats, and it is equally effective here. The most traditional assumption about the cleric class is examined. Everybody knows clerics are brought along to act as the group’s paramedic, right? Yes, often true, but maybe it would be better to not get hurt rather than to get hurt and then healed. In the process of questioning the cleric’s traditional EMT role, some good recommendations are given for breaking the pattern.
Three new domains are presented: Alchemy, Apocalypse, and Prophecy. I’m not sure that a divine Alchemy domain will fit into my game, but that is because of how my home-brew campaign is set up. The domain itself is well thought out, and will undoubtedly find a welcome home in other people’s games.
The Apocalypse domain rocks! In just a few paragraphs it develops the perfect flavor for someone who is devoted to being a Herald of Doom, with mechanics to back it up.
Prophecy is the third new domain, and it too is destined to be an excellent addition to my game. One of the big problems with divination magic back in the “olden days” (1st edition AD&D) was that it required the Dungeon Master to make a guess as to what was about to happen, or else just give in and tell the players some crucial piece of information. The first method was chronically ineffective, and the other was just plain unsatisfying. In the current generation of FRPG’s, prophecy and divination are handled by giving bonuses based on magical foresight. This is far superior to how it was done back in the 70’s, and the Prophecy domain uses these modern mechanics very smoothly.
The new sub-domains are Books, Entropy, Exorcism, Gambling, Horoscope, Lies, Potion, Transmutation, Truth, and Weapons. I’m not sold on the “Spellbook” power of the Books sub-domain; it feels much more arcane than divine. No matter, I’ll house-rule it for my campaign. On the other hand, Exorcism is quite a nice sub-domain and it more than makes up for the deficiency of the Books sub-domain.
The new archetypes are Ascetic, Charismatic, Enthusiast, Exorcist, Flagellant, Theosophist, Vatic, Weapon-sworn, and Wonder Worker. Ascetics have been done before, but this version should easily and comfortably co-exist with its predecessors.
All of these archetypes except Weapon-sworn draw a large measure of inspiration directly from history. Divine Favor has done an excellent job of translating these real-life historic roots into useful gaming terms. It is obvious that Stefen Styrsky spent considerable effort on this section. This is not to dismiss the Weapon-sworn archetype; it is also excellent, but its historic roots are more tenuous.
All of the archetypes are well designed and solidly presented, with a strong infusion of imagination. That they link the game to historical precedent is, for me at least, a huge bonus. This is certain to be the most useful part of the book for many people.
Variant Channeling comes next. It further differentiates the sub-domains, since each one gets its own special and wonderfully unique way to use channeling. All the options are imaginative, and in some cases just a little bit bizarre as well. This section concentrates on rules and mechanics, with no flavor text. I would have enjoyed a bit of descriptive fluff at this point, to help show how these powers would look when characters use them.
Six new spells round out the booklet. Half of these are 1st level, one is 2nd level, and the remaining two are 6th level. I am pleased that there are so many low level spells. Characters will get to use them sooner rather than later. It’s easy to make flashy high level spells, but characters have to wait a long time to use them.
I do take exception with one of the spell names: “Wind Down”. To me, this name sounds very modern – reminiscent of alarm clocks and other industrial age appliances rather than FRPG settings. It is a low level version of “Dispel Magic”, designed to drain away magical energy and so hasten the demise of magical effects. I would have preferred a name that showed this relationship; maybe something like “Lesser Dispel”. Still, being unhappy with the name of a single spell is really just nit-picking. The spells are great, no matter what they are named.
One last thing to mention: The artwork. Timothy K. Wickham was in charge of graphic design, which I assume means he was tasked with finding art for the booklet. He did an outstanding job! The artwork gives the entire project a wonderfully medieval feel, perfectly fitting the fantasy sword-and sorcery genre.
Overall, this publication easily lives up to Open Design’s five-star standard.
In what has become the standard opening, this fourth volume in the Divine Favour series opens with an overview of the cleric as adventurer and party member: strengths and weaknesses of the basic class, and what it's best to focus on. Most groups regard their cleric primarily as the provider of healing, with other spellcasting and a bit of combat tacked on for good measure. However, wise choice of offensive spells can make the cleric more potent in combat, and can be a better use of his powers than as a field medic. Switch to using the channel energy ability as the main healing force, and capitalise on the fact that clerics can cast spells when wearing heavy armour.
Next, new clerical domains are introduced: Alchemy, Apocalypse, and Prophecy; along with sub-domains that can be used to introduce variety by letting you swap out some of the domain powers and spells for different ones, changing the focus of your domain subtly. Some group existing spells to provide a different emphasis, but there are quite a few new spells - and new powers to play with.
If that's not enough, next some new archetypes. The Ascetic believes that the best way to explore his faith is to deny his bodily needs, fasting and choosing a limited diet, avoiding substances that he views as harmful. Charismatics exert influence over others by the power of their voices, many are travelling preachers proclaiming The Truth as they see it, some start crusades or urge their congregations to a certain course of action. An Enthusiast is filled with, well, enthusiasm about his faith and his deity - often forgetting themselves to such an extent that they can fall into a holy rage, abandoning reason as a raging barbarian does in his passion. The downside is that he cannot muster the focus to study spellcasting. The Exorcist sees devils and demons as threats to eliminate whenever the opportunity arises, and his powers and spells all function to that end. A Flagellant holds that pain and suffering are the way to salvation - and powers his spellcasting through his own blood. The Theosophist seeks wisdom and knowledge of the divine through study, becoming an intellectual student of his chosen faith rather than a devotee. They spend too much time in the library to be good fighters, on the other hand they have access to three domains instead of the regular pair, the third being any available to the character rather than those associated with his chosen deity. Vatics, who are restricted to the Prophecy domain alone, are capable of focussed visions, being able to cast any divine or arcane divinatory spell. Weapon-sworn believe that the path of righeousness is found through mastering their chosen weapon. Some are effective, even enthusiastic brawlers, others seek a more meditative state through their exercises. Wonder Workers manifest awesome powers through devotion alone.
Finally, all the new spells listed earlier are given a full write-up, ready for use; including a couple of rather nifty luck-based spells that can be used to help or hinder someone else.
There's a lot packed in here, and you will need to think what will fit in with the deities of your campaign world and the flavour of your game. Plenty of interesting ideas and food for thought, but as the deities of a world influence it so profoundly, GMs will need to decide which of these options to allow. The real strengths are the archetypes, which reflect how different people can take wholly different approaches to the service of their chosen deity - even when they have chosen to venerate the same one!