29 August 2010

Reworking Abjurers and Crusaders: Thought Process

One of the ways that I'm not satisfied with Aremorican Addendum is that it treats Crusaders and Abjurer's prayers almost exactly the same. To wit, Abjurers are the men of the cloth who conjure divine aid through concentrated effort, like a holy sorcerer. Crusaders are more of the typical cleric role, wearing thick armor and hefting sharp tools to slay their foes, like a combination of paladin and cleric. To digress a bit, I've always found the cleric to be a poor fit in my game. He's a pretty formidable package, in that he levels faster than the fighter, can wear the heaviest armor, and casts the most useful spells in the game (and anybody that denies that parties live or die based on their ability to cast Cure X is either lying or possibly a heretic). Essentially, the cleric is a fighter / priest, which is unusual, since the paladin is a cleric/fighter, or, depending on the particular game, simply a difficult to qualify for "fighter +". That's not cool.

For a mere 18 Charisma, this too can be yours.

Not only does it make for an odd game concept, but it means that they're treading on each other's toes. In many cases, the cleric not only treads on the toes of the fighter, but tramples all over him- it's easily arguable that a cleric brings more utility to the table than a fighter at any level. The guy's ability to fight passably well combined with his thick armor and ability to heal means that clerics are always more welcome in a party. And the paladin, as written, is simply poor design. What's the point of him, anyways? Does he represent a holy warrior, because we have one already. Does he represent a knight? We have that already too, in the Fighter.

So something has to give. The cleric is simply too awesome, he's always a good choice. So I made the long-coming decision to snip him into two: the Abjurer and the Crusader. The Abjurer is a master of prayer, but cannot use good weapons or any armor. He fights abysmally. His hit die is small. But he is able to level up quickly, to counteract his various flaws, and his ability to Pray is extremely useful.

The Crusader, on the other hand, is the cleric melded with the best bits of the Paladin. He's a powerful fighter, but cannot wear as heavy armor. He also doesn't get the small bonuses the Fighter's been rewritten to receive, such as the additional hit points. In exchange, he gains small bonuses in the forms of a couple of prayers.

But the Crusader and the Abjurer can't really share the same spell list. They have totally different roles and totally different needs. To an Abjurer, it doesn't matter if he spends the round praying, he's not really doing much else, so it doesn't matter if he has to stand there and pray. He at least can choose from a wide variety of useful, "buffing" prayers, and a couple of damaging ones, and a couple of general purpose utility ones. It doesn't matter if his prayers don't last long after he's done praying, since it's entirely possible for him to stand around and do it some more. He's like a wizard, in that he's not supposed to be doing anything other than casting spells, ideally.

But the Crusader can't stand around praying. He's got stuff to do, people to slay, shields to bear. He needs to be able to run around and do magic at the same time, just less potent magic. He needs to be able to have prayers that last a little longer, since they're the only thing that separates him from the generally more capable Fighter.

That, and the love of the ladies.

So I'm thinking of separating the spell lists, and giving the Crusader his own mechanic, possibly something in the realm of either an "aura" type thing, where he basically asks for divine intervention and it affects everybody around him, which lets him pray before battle and then spend the rest of the time kicking ass, or possibly instead of a prayer, an invocation. This fits the theme, in that crusaders should invoke their gods whenever the times are rough- i.e. "By the frost-bitten beard of Aurgelmir, I smite thee!" The only limiting mechanic that comes to mind as to how many times you can shout about your god and have it be noticed would be like a more penalized Prayer system. For example, your first invocation is free, the next one fails on a roll of 1, the next on a roll of 1-2, the next on a 1-3, and so on.

This would create a system where the Crusader's first invocation of the day always works, since the god hasn't heard from him in a bit and is probably curious. His second is also likely to be heard, but by the time his third rolls around, his divine guidance is wearing thin. So it means that the Crusader is allowed to have his protective magic, but he's got to be careful as to when he uses it, lest it go entirely to waste.

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