Eminent Domains

Friday, April 27, 2018

Deities and their domains are a big part of what makes clerics special. Logan set the stage with his cleric blog on Monday, so now let's get into the weeds and take a look at how we structured deities and domains.

Basic Deities

For each deity, we present some basic information, including areas of concern, titles, alignment, edicts, anathema, and favored weapon. Most of these are familiar or self-explanatory. One of the newer entries, anathema, is a concept Logan mentioned on Monday. This entry provides examples of actions that violate the deity's tenets. Let's take Shelyn as an example.


The Eternal Rose is the goddess of art, beauty, love, and music. She seeks to one day redeem her corrupted brother Zon-Kuthon.

Alignment NG
Edicts be peaceful, choose and perfect an art, lead by example, see the beauty in all things
Anathema destroy works of art or allow one to be destroyed except to save a life or in pursuit of greater art, refuse to accept surrender, strike first
Favored Weapon glaive

This entry gives you a good idea of how to play a Shelynite PC of any class. For example, a fighter faithful Shelyn might consider wielding her goddess's favored weapon, and even lay followers would likely feel terrible guilt at committing anathema acts even though they face no mechanical consequence for doing so. But what kind of cool stuff do you get if you're a cleric of a specific deity?

Clerics and Deities

Your choice of deity is essential when determining what type of cleric you play. A free-spirited and optimistic Desnan cleric, a tyrannical and scheming Asmodean, and a self-reliant perfectionist Iroran all relate to the world in different ways. We wanted to reflect this with a variety of character customization options based on deity! We've included a chart that indicates each deity's areas of concern, alignment (and the alignments allowed for their clerics), type of channeled energy (positive, negative, or either), signature skill, favored weapon, domains, and spells. For instance, here's Shelyn's entry on that table:

ShelynArt, beauty, love, and musicNG (LG, NG, CG)PositiveCraftingGlaiveCreation, family,
passion, protection
1st: color spray,
3rd: enthrall, 4th: creation

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

The deity's areas of concern include a brief restatement of her titles.

You'll notice the alignment lists not only Shelyn's alignment of neutral good, but also all the alignments her clerics could have in parentheses. Listing it this way allows us (or you, for your own deities) to be more expressive when creating deities. For instance, Norgorber now has slightly different alignments permitted for his clerics depending on which aspect of the deity they worship! Or, you could create a new deity of balance through opposing extremes who accepts only neutral, lawful good, chaotic good, chaotic evil, and lawful evil clerics.

Listing the type of channeled energy the deity grants allows for some really exciting situations. For instance, Lamasthu may be an incredibly evil deity of nightmares, but she's also a deity of the wild fecundity of the Abyss, so she allows her clerics to choose negative or positive energy when channeling. You could even have a good deity that granted only negative energy (none of the core deities worshiped in the Inner Sea region of Golarion do so, but it could be possible for a deity like Tsukiyo, perhaps, as part of his dualism with Shizuru) or an evil deity that could grant only positive energy.

The deity's signature skill is in addition to those all clerics gain, so Shelynite clerics always have the ability to reach great heights in Crafting. Norgorberite clerics, in contrast, gain Stealth in order to blend into the shadows, allowing them to fit in well with clandestine groups.

What about those spells at the end? Those are three extra spells that all clerics of Shelyn can prepare and cast! These aren't in any sort of special "domain slots" like before; you can cast them as few or as many times as you want. Oh, and Sarenrae has fireball!

But wait, Mark, what about...


Pathfinder First Edition has a list of domains that cover a variety of basic concepts but miss others entirely, and they are fairly generic, which means they don't always convey the nuance of why your deity has that domain. A great example of this was the Death domain and all its undead spells not really fitting with Pharasma, the goddess of death who hates undead.

One of the earliest and coolest innovations to domains in Pathfinder appeared in the Advanced Player's Guide, where subdomains altered domains to add nuance. In the playtest, we're bringing in that sort of flexibility right away! Each domain has a basic power and an advanced power, and because domain powers work as spells, creating a new domain that's perfect for your world is as simple as adding two spells. This allowed us to include significantly more domains in the game and will allow us to expand to even more domains with ease. Here's the list of new domains that don't share a name with any of the old domains (some names you might recognize from subdomains):

  • Ambition
  • Cities
  • Confidence
  • Creation
  • Dreams
  • Family
  • Fate
  • Freedom
  • Indulgence
  • Light
  • Might
  • Moon
  • Nature
  • Nightmares
  • Pain
  • Passion
  • Perfection
  • Secrecy
  • Truth
  • Tyranny
  • Undeath
  • Wealth
  • Zeal

These domains allow for a variety of powers that can really give you the feel of playing a cleric of a specific deity, both in combat and out! For example, take a look at this fun noncombat basic power from the Indulgence domain:

Enhance Victuals (Transmutation) Power 1

Casting 1 minute (Material, Somatic, Verbal Casting)
Range touch; Target 1 nonmagical pint of water or pound of food

You transform the target into delicious fare, changing water into wine or another fine beverage or enhancing food's taste and ingredients to make it a gourmet treat. The transformation also attempts to counteract toxins in the food or water. If you have Spell Points, you can add an additional pint or pound for each additional Spell Point you spend. The feast vanishes if not consumed.

Heightened (+1) Increase initial and additional pints or pounds by 1.

So if you're a cleric of Cayden Cailean or Urgathoa, you're going to be able to party in style. Since powers are automatically heightened as you gain levels, that means for just 1 Spell Point, a 7th-level cleric can make enough gourmet food for her whole adventuring party to have a meal, and they'll be able to throw a banquet to serve an incredible number of guests if they pour plenty of Spell Points into it during downtime. That's all with only 1 minute to prepare, making them a wonderful host for any occasion!

Meanwhile, the Fate domain has an advanced power that might come in handy in a clutch. But I'll ask you before we dive in—are you feeling lucky?

Tempt Fate (divination, Fortune) Power 2

Casting [[F]] Somatic free action; Trigger You or an ally within range attempts a saving throw.
Range 120 feet; Target you or a willing ally in range

If the triggering saving throw's result is a success, it counts as a critical success. If it's a failure, it counts as a critical failure, and the critical failure can't be reduced by abilities that usually reduce critical failure, such as improved evasion. If the triggering ability did not have both a critical success and critical failure condition, tempt fate fails and your Spell Point is refunded.

With tempt fate, you take your fate into your own hands, promising either total vindication from your saving throw or total disaster! This was a favorite of Jason's cleric of Pharasma in one of our playtests, and needless to say, it's a better choice to use this for your strong saving throws than your weak ones.

But what about Shelyn? Let's close by taking a look at two of the powers from her granted domains, one for in combat and one for outside of combat:

Unity (Abjuration, Fortune) Power 2

Casting [[R]] Verbal reaction; Trigger You and one or more allies within range are targeted by a spell or ability that allows a saving throw.
Range 30 feet

You allow your allies within range to use your saving throw modifier instead of their own. Each ally decides individually which modifier to use.

Unity is really useful for a support cleric with good saving throw modifiers, and it's particularly great for those dangerous area effects that require Will saving throws like a harpy's song, since few allies will be able to match your cleric's Will modifier!

Artistic Flourish (Transmutation) Power 2

Casting 10 minutes (Material, Somatic, Verbal)
Range touch; Target one item or work of art
Duration 24 hours

You infuse the target with artisanal and artistic vision. Its quality increases to match your proficiency rank in Crafting, to a maximum of expert. The target is a beautiful and impressive piece for its new quality, but the effect is obviously temporary, so it can't be sold for more than normal. This doesn't allow you to use the target to Craft a magic item that requires the new quality or perform any other task requiring a permanent item of that quality.

Heightened (4th) If you spend 1 additional Spell Point, the maximum quality increases to master.
Heightened (8th) If you spend 2 additional Spell Points, the maximum quality increases to legendary.

Not only is artistic flourish a great way to express your character's inner artisan, but it can also be of great use in a pinch when you could really use a very specific tool or item of high quality. Legendary-quality items aren't cheap, after all! This is also a great example of one way that using Spell Points allows us to play around a bit more and make the spell more interesting by varying costs. You saw this a bit earlier with enhance victuals, but here it's more than just the ability to save extra castings for a large batch. These sorts of flourishes are possible to word under a "uses per day" system, but it's awkward, and they're straightforward to create and easy to understand with a Spell Point pool.

So who's your favorite deity? What sorts of new domains can you imagine with this new system? Let me know in the comments below!

Mark Seifter

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The Dragon, Plague, Purity and Stars subdomains - I would love if they were promoted to full Domains.

Lantern Lodge

Would it be possible for Deities to give multiple spell options at each level?

To avoid a deity becoming too 1 tracked and ending up being "that" deity that give so and so.

Like if deity starts giving a bunch of damage spells, then won't that shoehorn that deity as the go to deity for making an offensive caster cleric?

But if a deity have a selection of spells at each level, then Clerics can pick the spells they want to use to make them unique.

Secane wrote:

Would it be possible for Deities to give multiple spell options at each level?

To avoid a deity becoming too 1 tracked and ending up being "that" deity that give so and so.

Like if deity starts giving a bunch of damage spells, then won't that shoehorn that deity as the go to deity for making an offensive caster cleric?

But if a deity have a selection of spells at each level, then Clerics can pick the spells they want to use to make them unique.

I don't think that is super relevant, since domain slots aren't a thing anymore. Deity spells are just added to the list of spells you can prepare as normal. Assuming the cleric spell list is comparable to PF1, there should be plenty of variety there. The deity spells are just gravy.

Paizo Employee Customer Service & Community Manager

Thanks for all the lively discussion so far in this thread. At this time we've decided to close up the blog discussion thread. If you have comments, questions or other things you want to post that do not fit into any currently open threads, you are welcome to start a new thread. Thanks!

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