Friday, December 4, 2015

How To Make the (DCC) Cleric Not Suck

"No one man should have all that power
The clock's ticking', I just count the hours
Stop tripping', I'm tripping' off the power
(21st century schizoid man)"
-Power, Kanye

In every system, DCC included, clerics suck. But we can fix them. We can make them Metal. We have the technology. Here we go:

  • Step 1: Make Clerics Optional
    • What do clerics have that we absolutely must have? HEALING. They have a monopoly on rapid, magical healing (outside of magical items and potions, which are supposed to be rare as f***).
    • Solution? Allow for stamina burn for all characters, 1 point per hit die, as per Crawl Issue #1. Allow unlimited stamina burn 10 minutes outside of any emergency situation. Suddenly, clerical healing has gone from a necessity to a useful option, to be weighed against disapproval, alternate spells, and having to owe the blasted cleric a favor.
    • This makes sense in the game fiction. HP represents a combination of luck, close calls, physical resilience, fighting skill, etc. Burning stamina is the player's way of admitting that the character is slowing down, that he took some flesh wounds in the combat and will eventually be overcome through attrition.
    • Burning stamina gives a wonderful sense of attrition and dwindling resources, and rewards clever play.
    • The Judge needs to have a plan for broken bones, disability (blindness, deafness, etc.), disease, and in-combat healing. Either have this be acceptable in the game fiction (LotFP), or provide outside healing services, or make this less common, or...whatever. You decide, figure it out.
    • Now players play clerics because they want to, not because somebody has to.
  • Step 2: Give Each Deity Their Own Fearsome Disapproval Table
    • Stop being lazy and do it.
    • A single disapproval table for all clerics sucks. The official Disapproval table mostly compounds the downward spiral of spellcasting loss. Disapproval can be so much more, including any of the following:
      • The deity screwing with the player
      • Roleplaying opportunities
      • A chance to add an aspect to the character that the Judge can make rulings with (drunk, blind, hideous, etc. etc.)
      • Dangerous opportunites
      • Tests and trials
      • A chance to show the cleric that constantly relying on divine aid can be dangerous
      • A chance to start a fight
      • Torments
      • Mutations/transformations - generally to look more like the deity's ideal form
      • Demand for service/works/donations
      • One of the primary sources for flavor text for your deity
    • The cleric should worry about rolling on this table.  If the cleric rolls above a 15 or so, he should expect to get wrickety wrecked. Example ranges:
      • 1-5: Inconvenience.
      • 6-10: Problem
      • 11-15: Crap.
      • 16-20: Frack.
  • Step 3: A Mechanical Description of the Deity
    • This includes:
      • Unholy categories. These need to make sense, even if they are narrow.
      • Weapon proficiencies (or just strip these out of the game)
      • What does a holy symbol look like?
      • How does the cleric's healing and magic work?
      • Enemies?
      • Special rituals and rites
      • Alignment (or just strip this out of the game)
  • Step 4: A Fluff Description of the Deity
    • This is more important than Step 3. With this, you can build Step 3 from scratch in a minute or two. In fact, do this first. Then build Step 3 in five minutes. You are being timed.
  • Step 5: Give the Cleric Something Special
    • Give the cleric something, even at 1st level, that sets them apart. A boon. Make this flexible and deity specific.
    • Examples include a unique spell, special ability, item, or oppotunity the cleric can develop over the course of the game. One favorite of mine is giving the cleric a 1st/2nd level cleric or wizard spell that casts as a 1st level cleric spell (+2 to spellchecks if 2nd level). And I jazz that spell up.
  • Step 6: Don't wait for Disapproval to Get Up in the Cleric's Business
    • Give the cleric visions, dreams, miracles, curses at times chosen by the deity. A cleric is like a wizard with a patron, except you can't get the patron to shut up or stay out of your business. Awesome!
  • Step 7: Crank Divine Aid to 11
    • Divine aid, if pulled off successfully, should be Metal. Bring the thunder, lightning, giant spirit blades, rain of spiders, antigravity fields, an army of the dead at the cleric's command, Deva soldiers, Jesus with machineguns, a crashing meteor, animated statues, etc.
    • For a gold star, write up an Invoke Diety table. Or just wing it.
    • Once called upon, divine aid will require great works to restore the balance. No spamming.
    • I'm amazed how this never gets used in play. Perhaps players need to be prompted?
  • Experimental Step 8: Clerical Spellburn - "Spiritburn"
    • I haven't fully decided how to implement this. Clerical spellburn should be rare, and it doesn't necessarily have to rely on physical attribute points. Maybe a second type of disapproval points that don't reset every morning? Maybe these points recover based on cleric level? Maybe we switch to personality burn? There are probably several ways to make this work, but there should be a way for a cleric to on a rare basis overcharge a clerical spell.
    • Example system: Clerical spellburn creates Type II disapproval points (call them Spiritburn points if you like).  These points are recovered each day in an amount based on the cleric's level [level/3 rounded up]. These disapproval points have the same effect as regular disapproval points. These Spiritburn points take effect after the spell they are used on.
    • Holy crap, I like that. Can anybody come up with a better alternative? But I think we should keep the name "Spiritburn."
Done!  >:D