Thursday, August 4, 2011

Augury - DragonCyclopedia: The Priest

As promised, here’s another review of the DragonCyclopedia series, by Glen R. Taylor. Each DragonCyclopedia (so far) is a small 1 dollar PDF that introduces a new base class to Pathfinder. These ebooks follow the same design philosophy: to present a different way of constructing a classical archetype for Pathfinder.

This augury is based on the DragonCyclopedia: The Priest.

As some you are undoubtedly aware I have recurrent problems with thecleric class. I’m not talking of any mechanical or descriptive issue, but of the archetype itself. Clerics are strongly built upon Christian knightly orders, besides undead and demon hunters from the old Hammer Horror Films. That’s cool and I love the class as written. However, I also find the cleric a very narrow representation of a greater concept: the archetypical priest or holy man of Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery fiction.

In this regard, I really like to see divine spellcasters that are more than “cloistered clerics” or variants customized to follow one deity or another. Actually, I’m much more interested in divine spellcaster whose powers operate differently from arcane casters (and I quite like the fact that Dave Anderson’s campaigns used priests with a different power system).

To my great delight, DragonCyclopedia: The Priest pretends to answer both problems above. On this ebook of 52 pages we’re presented do a broader type of divine caster that also uses a different type of spellcasting system.

The Priest follows the same basic stats of the cleric. However, instead of spell slots a priest uses Grace. Grace works as a small pool of points, which the priest can use to power his class abilities. The number of Grace spent per round is limited and a priest can recover Grace once per day, through mediation/prayer.

Priests have unique domains representing a suite of powers linked to a theme (war, fire, good, evil etc). Each domain grants class skills, a sacrifice, a restriction, some abilities and spells. The sacrifice/restriction is probably the coolest part. Once per day a priest may recover his entire Grave by performing the action described on one of his domain sacrifices. For example, the Air domain sacrifice requires that a priest defeats an enemy with falling or electrical damage. On the other hand, if the condition stipulated on a domain restriction comes to pass, the priest loses all his current Grace. Keeping the above example, the Air domain restriction occurs with the priest is brought below 0 hit points by acid or suffocating damage. The DragonCyclopedia: The Priest has 33 domains.

Priests also possess blessing/pray, lay on hands and divine smite class features, as well a few priest talents, to better customize each character.

DragonCyclopedia: The Priest has also guidelines on playing and using the new class, two new spells and one new magic item. While obviously powerful as the mage, the priest is a versatile divine caster, whose mechanic of sacrifice/restriction providing a chaotic side to the resource management aspect of Pathfinder (which I my opinion fits perfectly the idea of a servant of the gods).