As I mentioned over on G+, my wife and I are expecting our first child this June, and her first trimester wasn’t the easiest going for her. Compound that with my new position at work (started in August) starting to ramp up and the result is a lack of blogging.
Originally posted by Brianna Heine on the other (now defunct) version of this site.
Since I plan on writing a post concerning magic in the Hyborian Age at a much later time I want to start collecting some opinions on the topic. I’m going to save my opinion on how the system should work until later but in the meantime I want to discuss some of my thoughts on magic.
In “The Tower of the Elephant” the being Yag-kosha explained to Conan that he “…came to this planet (Earth) with others of my world from the green planet Yag, which circles for ever in the outer fringe of this universe.”
Yag-kosha further explains that the sorcerer Yara captured him and used him to do his bidding. “But he [Yara] was not satisfied with what I taught him, for it was white magic, and he wished evil lore…”
Yara is described as “… versed in dark knowledge… with guile gotten among the dusky tomes of dark Stygia…”
This one story reveals some pretty interesting possibilities. In fact I didn’t really pick up on this until I started looking at it from a position of game development. Yag-kosha makes reference to “White Magic”. In the context of the story it implies that magic is not all “evil lore”. Therefore I would conclude that magic exists that is not evil.
I would say that Turn Unholy poses the biggest problem for me in regards to Chaos clerics. Last time I mentioned the anti-cleric, who completely lacked any version of Turn Undead. Considering what the power represents in the fiction, it makes sense that it would be exclusive to Lawful clerics. It’s Peter Cushing rebuking Christopher Lee with a cross; it’s a holy man passing unharmed through the valley of the shadow of death. When I first started playing D&D, the fictional truth behind Turn Undead instantly made sense to me, even if the rules for doing it didn’t. But where does the Chaos cleric fit in that fiction?
As I noted in Part 1, I am writing with two particular assumptions in mind: One, that alignment represents allegiance, and two, that the majority of “nature gods” are Neutral. Also, this topic will now be split across three posts instead of just two, as I previously expected.
In little brown book OD&D, all clerics are Lawful in alignment, and the priests of Chaos are “anti-clerics.” This distinct class lacks any power over undead, not even AD&D’s command variation for evil priests. Also, the anti-cleric spell list lacks any healing spells. Now, DCC comes together from an amalgamation of ideas across all editions of D&D, along with a lot of excellent original material. But I think there’s still a lot of value in looking back at the anti-cleric when considering Chaotic clerics and how they are distinct from Lawful and Neutral clerics, both fictionally and mechanically.
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).
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.
Just to be clear, this was a pre-scheduled post. If you are actually reading this on Thursday evening, there is a distinct possibility that I am currently out having dinner with the lovely Mrs. Elise Carr. Now, onto something a bit less attractive …
Rat-men priests have the same stats as standard rat-men with the addition of the following magical abilities. They often use maces instead of short swords.
Blessing of the Plague Demon: Once per day, the priest can grant a blessing to all rat-men in a 30′ radius. The blessing lasts 1d4 rounds and provides +2 damage and a +2 bonus to the DC to resist rat-men’s disease (making the DC 14).
Choking Cloud: Rat-men priests can cast this spell with a +3 spell check bonus.
Summon Rats (3/day): The priest can cast a spell that brings forth either 1 rat swarm or 1d3 giant rats. That rats will emerge from the earth within 30′ of the caster; a swarm can be directed to emerge in a 20′ x 20′ space already occupied by the rat-men’s foes.
General practitioner studied in astronomy/astrology; has an impressive observatory and orrery.
General practitioner who is elderly, kindly, and more than a bit forgetful; was once a powerful servant of the Great Old Ones before having mind shattered in a ritual stopped by self-sacrificing heroes.
General practitioner of a highly academic bent; quite pretentious.
General practitioner who is a former child prodigy/chosen one; now a dilettante and raconteur.
Effigist focusing on the crafting of exquisite golems of traditional materials such as stone and iron.
Alchemist consumed by the quest to perfect their craft and study the texts of peers and predecessors.
Travelling alchemist who is a canny salesman; a bit lazy in the lab and produces potions with undesirable side effects. The toughest actual local is 2 levels / 1 rank lower; roll again to determine personality.
Illusionist who believes that “reality” is an elaborate illusion of unknown purpose.
Illusionist who is a skilled pick-up artist; dresses in a manner befitting a pirate.
Pyromancer who is a bit quiet and generally keeps to themself.
Chronomancer prone to trailing thoughts and exclamatory interjections.
Summoner with a hyper-competitive outlook; favors elemental creatures such as fire lizards and lightning rats.
Witch living on the fringe of the community and protecting it from the dark forces in the wilds.
Witch living on the fringe of the community who occasionally corrupts virgins and steals children.
Diviner who oddly always comments on future gastrointestinal health along with any other predications.
Necromancer obsessed with flesh golems and other modified undead.
Necromancer with a horde of skeletons ordered to defend against intruders, keep the house tidy, and make surprisingly tasty and not-at-all disgusting dinners.
Infernalist who seeks political prominence and wealth.
Thief of forgotten and forbidden lore (aka “adventurer”) with an arsenal of deadly artifacts; will not hesitate to electrocute anyone who looks at them the wrong way.