Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – The Cleric

I’ve always thought of clerics as being among the D&D game’s – and by extension, all of fantasy role-playing’s – first attempts to deal with the issue of multiclassing. The cleric stands between the two great archetypes of fantasy – the muscle-bound fighter hacking his way through enemies with sheer strength and toughness, and the old wizard calling on eldritch magic to deal with his foes – combining aspects of both, and compensating for this versatility with diminished capabilities in each area.

Cleric

50% bashing. 50% healing. 100% god-approved.

Of course, the cleric has its own tropes too. The idea of being a servant of the divine, imbued with powers of your god, is one rich with mythological and literary traditions. More specific to D&D, clerics have had power over the undead, as well as near-exclusive dominion over healing spells, since the beginning.

These are traditions that continue in the Basic version of D&D Fifth Edition. The cleric here seems to be a fairly direct call-back to its presentation in earlier iterations of the game, such as 3.5 and Pathfinder. As such, we can break it down using the point-buy rules in Eclipse: the Codex Persona and see how it compares to its counterparts.

The Basic 5Eclipse Cleric

Available Character Points: 504 (level 20 base).

Right off the bat, we’re going to break from tradition for clerical characters, and not say that it has duties for +2 CP/level. In this case, the cleric will not find himself burdened with ecclesiastical responsibilities, and will be able to spend the whole of his time adventuring. Which is sort of how PC clerics tend to act anyway.

Basic Abilities (155 CP)

  • 20d8 Hit Dice (80 CP).
  • Proficiencies: Light and medium armor (9 CP), shields (3 CP), and all simple weapons (3 CP).
  • BAB: +6 Warcraft, specialized for one-half cost/only applies to weapons that you have proficiency with, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (12 CP).
  • Saves: +6 to two saving throws (36 CP).
  • Skills: +6 to two skills (12 CP).

It’s fairly obvious at this point that, in terms of basic abilities, most Basic 5E characters are going to look the same in their presentation. More specifically, the last three bullet points will be almost the same for each class – only their Hit Dice and weapon and armor proficiencies will be notably different. Between this and the low ceiling on these numbers, it’s not a bad idea for keeping things “balanced,” even if it may seem a tad restrictive.

Clerical Spellcasting (126 CP)

  • 20 clerical levels magic progression, no package (Wisdom-based; spontaneous casting; divine magic; studies and restrained limitations), corrupted for two-thirds cost/reduce the spells per day at each level by two-thirds (round up), specialized for increased effect/may rearrange spells known each day, cannot use any metamagic theorems (60 CP).
  • 20 caster levels, specialized for one-half cost/only for the cleric progression (60 CP).
  • Occult Ritual, specialized for increased effect/does not require a skill check; may only be used with certain prepared spells to mimic their effects (6 CP).

The clerical spellcasting table in Basic 5E is somewhat troublesome to recreate, for several reasons. The first is that the number of spell slots it grants per day are highly limited compared to clerics from previous editions. Counting 0-level spells, by 20th level it grants a total of twenty-seven spells totaling 91.5 spell levels. The clerical progression in Eclipse, by contrast, at 20th level grants a total of forty-five spells totaling 181 spell levels. In other words, the Basic 5E cleric is casting about half as many spells as its counterparts from earlier editions.

Normally we’d simply specialize the clerical progression so that it grants half as many spell slots per level to simulate this, but I’ve elected to go with a corrupted version instead. That’s because halving the spell slots per level would be a fairly severe imposition at the lower levels, only evening out at the higher ones. This way, we’re giving a bit of a boost to the guy who elected to play a cleric at the beginning, when those spells are arguably most needed.

The other issue is the manner of how the cleric’s spells are prepared. Clerics (and wizards, for that matter) in Basic 5E are essentially spontaneous spellcasters, as they get to determine what their daily spell slots are for as they cast them, choosing from among a list of spells known. The difference is that they get to change what their spells known are each day, picking a total number of spells equal to their Wisdom modifier plus their class level (with no regard for the levels of those spells).

Here, I’ve elected to simulate this by just using the spontaneous version of the clerical spellcasting progression, and specializing it for increased effect. This doesn’t grant quite the freedom that comes from picking your spells known without worrying about having to divide them among a level progression – though you can get that by spending 6 CP to purchase Spell Flow – but I think that’s a good thing. Otherwise you’re likely to overspend on either high-level spells (leaving your lower-level spell slots useless) or low-level spells (which are a waste of your high-level slots, even if the effect automatically scales as per the old Heighten Spell feat).

As for the degree of versatility that comes with being able to change your Spells Known each day, that’s gained by specializing the entire progression for increased effect. Giving up all access to metamagic is a fairly big loss for an Eclipse-based spellcaster, so that should be sufficient for being able to pick their Spells Known off of their class spell list each day – though of course, each GM will have their own opinion regarding whether or not that’s a sufficient sacrifice. That said, since Basic 5E spellcasters don’t get metamagic anyway, it works perfectly here.

One minor additional note is that since this uses the studies limitation (being a spontaneous spellcaster), we’re adding that in place of the conduct limitation that most divine spellcasters would have. This is in deference to the fact that Basic 5E – at least in its alpha release – has no gods listed for clerics to serve. Between this and the lack of a duties restriction, the Basic 5E cleric functions less as an evangelical priest than as an ecumenical mystic on behalf of unspecified (or perhaps highly personal) spiritual forces.

Class Features (152 CP)

  • Channel Divinity: Turn Undead: channel energy [3 + (3 x Charisma bonus)] uses per day, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not use more than three attempts before needing a one-hour rest (14 CP). Base intensity as character level +4 (6 CP).
  • Ability Score Improvements: +10 ability score improvements (120 CP).
  • Divine Intervention: Inherent Spell with two uses of Advanced, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only as prerequisites (6 CP). One further use of Advanced, corrupted for increased effect (miracle)/may not be used again for 7 days after use (6 CP).

The use of the turn undead rules as presented in Eclipse subsume several of the Basic 5E cleric’s class abilities, specifically those related to destroying the undead. The mechanics are slightly different, but not so much that we need to worry about altering the abilities to try and get an exact match.

Divine Domain: Life (62 CP)

  • Domain Spells: Domain (healing) (6 CP).
  • Bonus Proficiency: Heavy armor proficiency (6 CP).
  • Disciple of Life: Ability Focus/healing spells (variant ability, granting +2 hit points of healing rather than +2 DC) (6 CP).
  • Channel Divinity: Preserve Life: Conversion – mass cure moderate wounds (12 CP).
  • Blessed Healer: Grant of Aid with the Mighty modifier, specialized for double effect/only for hit points, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only used when casting a healing spell on others, restoring no more than (2 + spell level) hit points each time (6 CP).
  • Divine Strike: +2d8 damage, triple cost – always with your deity’s favored weapon, specialized for one-half cost/only once per round (12 CP).
  • Supreme Healing: Amplify metamagic theorem, specialized for one-half cost/only grants the Maximize effect, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may only be used on healing spells (2 CP).

We’re slightly bending some things here to approximate the effect’s of the Basic 5E cleric’s life domain abilities. For example, we’re not worried with changing the domain spells that this domain grants – that’s a minor variant. Likewise, we’re not going to be too worried about Preserve Life’s specifics regarding only being able to heal those under half their hit points, etc.

A few specific notes would be that it’s simpler to roll all of the dice for Blessed Healer at the beginning of the day, and then parcel the hit points out as the ability is used. Likewise, we’re specifying an exception on this class’s prohibition to metamagic for its domain ability. Normally that’d be the GM’s prerogative, but we’ll allow it here.

All of these features together bring us to a grand total of 495 CP, which is within a single level of the 504 CP allotment for the class. Once again, the Basic 5E classes are quite balanced overall.

For those that prefer it, here once again is a level-by-level breakdown of the Basic 5E cleric’s abilities:

Every Level: d8 Hit Die, +1 caster level specialized in cleric, +1 level of clerical spellcasting (no package) specialized and corrupted as above = 10 CP.

Level Cost Purchases
1st 69 Proficiency with light and medium armor (9 CP), shields (3 CP), and all simple weapons (3 CP). +2 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (4 CP). +2 to two saves (12 CP). +2 to two skills (4 CP). Domain (life) (6 CP). Heavy armor proficiency (6 CP). Ability Focus/healing (variant) (6 CP). Occult Ritual, specialized (6 CP).
2nd 38 Turn Undead. [3 + (3 x Charisma bonus)] uses per day, specialized for one-half cost/may not use more than one attempts before needing a one-hour rest (10 CP). Base intensity as character level +4 (6 CP). Conversion (mass cure moderate wounds) (12 CP).
3rd 10
4th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
5th 20 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP).
6th 16 Specialization on number of uses per day for Turn Undead increased to two attempts before needing a one-hour rest (0 CP). Grant of Aid with the Mighty modifier, specialized for double effect/only for hit points, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only used when casting a healing spell on others, restoring no more than (2 + spell level) hit points each time (6 CP).
7th 10
8th 46 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP). +2d8 damage, triple cost – always with your deity’s favored weapon, specialized for one-half cost/only once per round (12 CP).
9th 20 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP).
10th 19 Inherent Spell (miracle) with two uses of Advanced, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only as prerequisites (6 CP). One further use of Advanced, corrupted for increased effect/may not be used again for 7 days after successful use, specialized for one-half cost/requires a successful d% roll equal to or less than your level (3 CP).
11th 10
12th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
13th 20 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP).
14th 10
15th 10
16th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
17th 34 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP). Amplify metamagic theorem, specialized for one-half cost/only grants the Maximize effect, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may only be used on healing spells (2 CP). Streamline, specialized for double effect/may only be applied to Amplify, corrupted for increased effect/only applies to maximizing spells (6 CP). Fast modifier (6 CP).
18th 14 Specialization on number of uses per day for Turn Undead bought up to corruption/three attempts before needing a one-hour rest (4 CP).
19th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
20th 13 Buy off specialization on final Advanced modifier for Inherent Spell (3 CP).

There are some interesting things to note when comparing this cleric to the 3.5 and Pathfinder versions. The 3.5 cleric has the aforementioned religious duties that grant him an extra 40 CP. The Pathfinder version makes a few minor changes, but the big one is that it spends 6 CP to buy Fast Learner, specialized for double effect in domain abilities; that’s a net gain of 34 more CP over twenty levels – even more than that when you realize that it paid for that 6 CP by dropping some other things.

The take-away from that is that the Basic 5E cleric is actually working with far fewer Character Points than clerics from earlier editions of the game. Of course, that’s self-evident due to the seriously-reduced BAB, save, and skill progressions, as noted above. Beyond that, using a corrupted version of the no-package clerical spell progression, rather than an uncorrupted version of the with-package progression, is the cause of the remainder of the savings. Even expanding the domain abilities (and taking a heaping helping of ability score improvements) can’t account for all the unspent CPs.

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3 Responses to “Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – The Cleric”

  1. F Wumpus Says:

    Thanks for this article, it’s good to see the work you’ve done to represent Clerics well. I’m not that familiar with CP’s, more so with old school versions of D&D (d20) for character builds. The CP’s seem an enjoyable method to create your characters. The character builds, I believe, are almost the best part of RPG-ing, in my opinion! 🙂

    • alzrius Says:

      Thanks for the kind words, F Wumpus!

      The use of CPs (Character Points) is the central part of using Eclipse: The Codex Persona, which is a point-buy character-generator for d20 games, linked to early in the article. I’m quite enamored of it (as my constant posting character builds using it shows!), as I find it allows you to make many more kinds of characters than the usual class-level rules allow, while still being compatible.

      If you’d like to see more of the incredible array of what can be done using that book (including an article on using Eclipse to recreate old-school versions of the classic classes), check out the link to the Emergence Campaign Weblog under my blogroll.

  2. Dungeons and Dragons – You gotta have Faith to play a Cleric Says:

    […] Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – The Cleric from Intelligence Check […]

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