Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Overreaction Tuesday - Special Divine Edition

Stuff about Clerics from Mike Mearls:

Ahh, Baldur's Gate!
  • The cleric was one of the three original D&D character classes. True!
  • Oddly enough, although healers are common in most fantasy RPGs, many games cast such characters as unarmored spellcasters. D&D is fairly unique in that its divine caster wears armor and totes a weapon. Eh, what? Which RPG's are those? Pathfinder? Hackmaster?Runequest? Warhammer? Palladium? Fantasy Hero? GURPS? Dragon Age? I'm pretty sure most fantasy RPG's look a lot like D&D and if they include a healer at all then he's armed and armored in some way. If we're discussing most fantasy novels (other than RPG novels) then I might agree, but D&D is such a dominant force in the industry that I would say this is flat-out wrong and most non-D&D fantasy RPG's have healer/cleric types that look a lot like D&D's Cleric.
  • The Cleric Is a Healer - OK that's traditionally the major aspect of them, I can go with that.
  • The Cleric Is a Divine Spellcaster - Sure, fine.
It was in Spellfire! Argument Over!
  • Divine Magic Is Subtle and Indirect - Divine spells are rarely naked displays of power meant to smite and blast the cleric's enemies. Instead, the cleric's magic lends strength, support, and durability to both the cleric and his or her allies. Spells such as bless, cure light wounds, and neutralize poison are iconic divine spells. Whoa, say what? How about "Hold Person", "Flame Strike", and "Blade Barrier" as iconic divine spells? They are exactly the kinds of "naked displays of power" that many players look forward to using. If your an agent of a god that everyone knows exists then you don't have to be subtle. War gods and fire gods and storm gods are not likely to be subtle, nor should their followers. Let's not pigeonhole the cleric into something that goes against it's historical flavor within the game.
    Hold Person Star Wars style!
  • The Cleric Is an Armored Warrior - The cleric is a warrior, though not as skilled as a fighter and typically armed with weapons linked to his or her deity. First part yes! Second part well ... for much of the history of the game they wielded maces and hammers, but I'm willing to go with the deity linkage as it does cut down on the samey-ness of the old days. It did keep things simple though.
Not that armored, but I kinda like her ...
  • Clerics Reflect the Gods - A cleric of the god of shadows should have different abilities than a cleric of the god of storms. I agree one hundred percent! Which is why I would throw out the subtle and indirect comment above - and I mean right now! A cleric of a storm god in the middle of a fight should be a blatantly terrifying and very direct thing - the only possible indirect thing about him should be the targeting details of his lightning bolts, as in "called down from the sky" rather than "blasted forth from his mighty warhammer" if that's the way your spells and powers operate.
That's a rare animal - the fully armored fantasy female, cleric or otherwise...

Monte Cook has some thoughts here about Clerics vs. Paladins. I'm not going to break it down but there's a survey too so if you like Paladins, take a look and vote! 

The real question is can we make a dual-wielding Paladin?
And one rules question of note in the Rule of Three:

Will the current system of standard, move, minor, free, immediate interrupts, immediate reactions, and no actions be retained, or is that something you look to change in D&D Next?

One of the things we're trying to do is streamline the player's turn a bit while still letting the player do something significant each turn. As of right now, we have a system that states that on your turn you can take one action, and then move up to your speed. Most everything is just an action; attacks, casting spells, activating magic items, etc. "Moving up to your speed" can also cover things like climbing, jumping, and standing up from prone within that movement. We believe this is going to accomplish our goal of making combat move faster across all levels, being easier to teach to new players, and also making sure that the kinds of effects we're putting into the game are big, meaty and significant so that you really feel their impact.

I figured they would probably do something like that. That's kind of how we ran it in 2E after being influenced by things like Shadowrun and other games. They've already said that the off-turn actions are what they think really slows down combat, but other than those you're really only losing Minor actions - by definition anything that doesn't take an "action" will be free. Going back to the Cleric, one of the innovations of 4E was letting leaders heal as a Minor action, which meant they didn't have to give up their entire turn to do it. Not sure how that's going to play out in this new system, but I hope they don;t go completely retro in this case.

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