Holy Shit: Let’s Talk About Clerics in DCC RPG, Part 1

There are currently two cleric characters in my DCC game. One is a 1st-level Lawful cleric of St. Trebor of the Gavel, whose holy words are “Judge others as ye too shall be judged.” The other (and original) cleric of the group is the Chaotic former gong-farmer Sherman Funk, filth-priest of Nimulrun the Unclean. With both ends of the spectrum at the table, it’s gotten me thinking about how the rules and the fiction jive up for clerics (especially on that chaotic end).

deviantART by DKuang

The DCC cleric is obviously rooted in the tradition of the D&D cleric, which is itself arguably an amalgam of implied psuedo-Christianity and Hammer horror films. From this we get a DCC cleric with Lay on Hands, Turn Unholy, and deity disapproval that resets every day in a manner similar to Vancian-casting clerics praying for spells in the morning. Before I get into some thoughts on each of these class abilities, know that I am making two assumptions about the fictional setting: One, that alignment represents allegiance and therefore the overwhelming majority of non-spellcasting humans are Neutral; two, that the majority of “nature gods” are Neutral, with only gods of icky things and brutal savagery falling into the Chaos camp.

Disapproval
On my first read through the DCC rulebook, I remember being a little surprised that Deity Disapproval reset every morning. Disapproval is, after all, a way of putting some rules behind the generally abstract notion that the cleric’s magic stems from a higher power which both giveth and taketh away. One way of looking at the rules as written is that morning prayer by the truly faithful makes them square and sates the deity’s temper. However, I’m thinking that a miracle-worker’s degree of devotion should not only tie into the works they can perform, but also how often they can perform them. So I’m strongly considering implementing a house rule that instead of completely resetting, a cleric’s disapproval rating is reduced each day by an amount equal to his cleric level (down to the minimum of 1).

One of the most obvious things this does is put a lot more oomph into the cost for invoking the Divine Aid ability – now a 1st-level cleric who calls upon their god to do whatever crazy thing has 9 days before they get back to disapproval 1, and that’s assuming they don’t fail any other caster checks during that period. But honestly, Divine Aid is an ability that lets you make a dice roll to have your god pretty much do anything you can think of. If you don’t want to deal with those consequences, stick to the spell list!

Honestly, I am open to opinions on whether this will rule will hinder the class too much, or if clerics need to be given something additional to make up for it. That said, I’m strongly leaning toward “Nope, just deal with it,” because clerics are already a pretty potent class. Also because Adam Muszkiewicz thought it sounded right, and he both plays a DCC cleric and writes a great blog.

Coming in Part II: Lay on Hands, Turn Unholy, and their relationship with Chaos clerics.

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Author: John Carr

Gamer, comic guy, office drone.

2 thoughts on “Holy Shit: Let’s Talk About Clerics in DCC RPG, Part 1”

  1. Looking forward to part two, lol… I apologize if I seemed a little irked last session, but being a chaotic cleric has some distinct disadvantages… For example the detect evil spell is borderline useless for me. However, in the spirit of the game, I have decided to explore other, shall we say more nefarious avenues that are not open to my goody two shoes brethren …. The unholy ressurectuon of Perceval is just the start my friend. I have a temple now… I think it’s high time I started collecting some acolytes. MEWHAHAHAHA

    1. No worries, Matt, though as we learned last time, Detect Evil also detects anything actively threatening the cleric. That’s one of the points of discussion that will come up relative to Turn Unholy.

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