Divine Powers in Echelon

I think arcane spellcasters are fairly well handled with the Eldritch Weaving rules I’m adapting. Bards aren’t specifically addressed, but the adaptations needed are fairly straightforward.

The Eldritch Weaving rules I’m adapting don’t really address divine spellcasters. Divine spellcasters also have other powers (domain powers, druidic abilities, and so on).

This actually shouldn’t be terribly hard to do in Echelon.

Powers by D&D 3.x Divine Class

Cleric

Clerics have basically three sources of power: spellcasting, domain powers, and divine channelling (turn undead).

Spellcasting

Spellcasting is probably the simplest to deal with, despite being the largest source of power.

It looks like it could be reasonable to make a thread for each deity’s domains, granting knowledge of all the deity-specific spells. For instance, Albry (patron of farmers, noted for his healing abilities and immense stamina) grants access to the Healing, Plant, and Strength domains in my D&D 3.x campaign. The ‘Thread of Albry’ would grant knowledge of the spells of these three domains, plus a minor and a major power that I have not yet decided on.

Alternatively, each domain could be made a full and proper thread itself, with three spells per spell level and a minor and a major power. In this case a priest of Albry would have to take three talents to get the full range of spells “granted by Albry” (or that call on Albry’s power, or however this gets explained). He would thus know nine spells per spell level and have three minor and three major powers from these threads/domains.

Both of these seem sensible approaches, I’ll need to examine in closer detail before making a decision.

Domain Powers

In D&D 3.x each domain grants a power. This is available at first level, sometimes scales and sometimes doesn’t, and varies a great deal between domains. In some cases it adds class skills (but no more skill points to take them with), in some cases it grants a weak feat or two (War grants martial proficiency with a single weapon if needed, and Weapon Focus).

In Echelon, it might be simpler to expect that characters with particular domains are likely to take certain talents (it’s not out of line that a warrior priest takes Combat Training to a higher degree than most other priests, wizard priests taking more magic-related talents in place of combat talents is reasonable, and so on).

Domain powers in D&D 3.x don’t seem to fit Echelon tiers very well because they are all granted at first level and may or may not scale from there. I think it would be good to see a talent for each domain. This also makes it possible for noncasting followers of a deity to take powers related to their deity. For instance, a Holy Warrior (generic paladin-type) might split his talents between straight up combat talents and ‘domain power talents’.

Divine Channelling

Making divine channelling a talent seems an obvious thing to do, but channelling alone doesn’t really do anything. It would be quite a large buy-in cost for divine powers.

It occurs to me that ‘divine threads’ could have their minor and major powers fuelled by channelling. However, this is still a large buy-in cost. It might be better to have channelling granted as a side effect of the threads or domain powers that require it. They would presumably draw from the same resource, but possibly each add to it. This needs further consideration as well, but I think this will be a better approach than a separate talent.

Paladin

A paladin is a type of holy warrior. As described above, this could perhaps be best modeled as a character with primarily combat talents, a smaller number of ‘domain power talents’, and a smaller (or lower-level) set of spellcasting talents. It would be possible to have a different mix as well, of course.

Druid

Druids have as their primary powers spellcasting and wildshape, plus an odd mix of other abilities. The spellcasting is trivially handled much as for clerics (focus mostly on nature-related threads like animal magic, plant magic, and/or elemental magic). Wildshape is likely to be its own talent, and the other druidic powers could reasonably be made other or additional talents.

Modeling the druid likely won’t be as straightforward as the cleric because this class has a weirder mix of abilities, but this seems to mostly be a matter of designing the supporting talents well.

Ranger

Rangers are fairly simple once druids are done. Primarily mobile warriors with some minor spellcasting, though I like a variant that grants wildshape in place of the spellcasting. Both forms could be done pretty easily.

Domain Powers

Domain Powers deserve their own section because they are perhaps the biggest and least obvious changes between D&D 3.x and Echelon.

I was lucky enough to stumble some years ago on a product called Agents of Faith (published by Living Imagination Inc.), which outlined feats to give all characters powers relating to each domain. For each domain there is a feat available at 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, and 15th levels, and one more for an ‘ascended’ character (who might be lower than 15th level, there are guidelines for deciding who is ascended that frankly aren’t relevant here and now).

Each domain has five feats, roughly four levels apart. This sounds like a decent match, or at least a starting point, for ‘domain talents’. It appears the authors tried to keep the power consistent with RAW feats for the same levels where they could, so I expect these talents will need some tuning up in power. I also expect that I’ll want to adjust the wording and mechanics to better suit Echelon.

However, as a starting point, they aren’t bad. I’ll show some examples below (including the ‘ascension’ power, though strictly speaking there isn’t a place for them in Echelon). I’ll start with the four elemental domains and the Sun domain.

Air Domain Talent

Tier Benefit
Expert Wind Shield: All missile attacks against you automatically suffer a 20% miss chance. This miss chance is not rerolled for Blind Fighting, as this is not concealment.
Heroic Air Strike: You may make an extra melee attack every round, which delivers 1d6 points of damage +1 per character level. The extra attack is made at your base attack bonus with a -6 penalty, with no ability modifiers.
Master Squelch Fire: Once per day you can remove all of the air from around your body for a fraction of a second, creating a pocket in which fire cannot burn. This immediately negates any damage from a single fire-based attack. This negates the damage done to you, but does not help anyone else caught in the area of effect. This is a supernatural ability.
Champion Air Form: Once per day you may cast a gaseous form upon yourself as a spell-like ability.
Legendary Flight: You immediately gain the ability to fly at a rate equal to your movement rate, with perfect maneuverability. This is a supernatural ability.
Ascended Create Air Elementals: When you invoke this power you may turn one initiate into an air elemental for every twenty levels of initiates present (not including you). They are transformed into Greater Air Elementals, with all powers and abilities, and, although they retain their own mind, they cannot use any of their own powers or abilities while in elemental form. Elementals created in this way will have 5 hp per HD. If they should be killed then their Elemental form is dispelled and they return to themselves as they were before the transformation.

Earth Domain Talent

Tier Benefit
Expert Earth Mastery: You gain, as an extraordinary ability, a +1 attack and damage bonus when both you and your foe touch the ground, as an earth elemental. You do not share the earth elemental’s penalties against opponents who are airborne or waterborne.
Heroic Fists of Stone: Your unarmed attacks deal 1d6 points of lethal damage (or 1d4 if you are Small), and you are considered ‘armed’ when making unarmed attacks. If you are a monk, you r unarmed attacks instead gain +2 divine bonus to all damage rolls.
Master Mother’s Embrace: You take no falling damage when you fall on dirt, sand, or stone.
Champion Tremorsense: You automatically sense the location of anything within 60 feet that is in contact with the ground. This is an extraordinary ability.
Legendary Harden Bones: You gain DR 3/- against all attacks.
Ascended Create Earth Elementals: When you invoke this power you may turn one initiate into an earth elemental for every twenty levels of initiates present (not including you). They are transformed into Greater Earth Elementals, with all powers and abilities, and, although they retain their own mind, they cannot use any of their own powers or abilities while in elemental form. Elementals created in this way will have 5 hp per HD. If they should be killed then their Elemental form is dispelled and they return to themselves as they were before the transformation.

Fire Domain Talent

Tier Benefit
Expert Fire Finger: At will, you can ignite any normally flammable material that you are holding. You need to concentrate and be completely undisturbed for a full round, after which the object will begin to burn with a tiny flame near where you are holding it. If the prevalent conditions do not lend themselves to open fire, the flame will be extinguished quickly, or may even not appear at all (such as if you’re underwater, in a snow storm, etc.).
Heroic Fire Resistance: You gain a Fire Resistance of 10, as well as a +4 divine bonus to all saves versus spells or spell-like effects that deliver fire damage. In the case of fire damage where there is normally no save, you still get a Fortitude save at DC 20 for half damage.
Master Weapon of Flame: Once per day, you can invoke this feat to imbue your weapon with magical flames, which last for one minute per character level. For this duration your weapon strikes as a magical +3 flaming weapon, and does an extra 1d6 points of fire damage when it hits. Also, for the duration the weapon cannot be taken from you, cannot be dropped, and cannot be broken or destroyed. When the duration expires the weapon will have been completely consumed and will crumble to ashes. This feat cannot be used on weapons that are magical already.
Champion Fire Walk: Once per day, you can invoke this feat to become completely immune to the effects of any non-magical and magic fire for a duration of one minute per character level. You and anything you are carrying is not affected by heat or flame. You can walk through a burning building or forest, in the path of a fire-breathing dragon, across burning coals, even into molten lava (although you are not protected from sinking into it).
Legendary Flame Cloak: At will, you can wreathe yourself in a voluminous cloak of fire, which will ignite flammable material and burn creatures within 10 feet of you. All creature within 10 ft. Of you take 2d8 damage from fire every round, although they can make a Reflex save for half damage if they are trying to stay out of reach. Most objects must make a saving throw against fire, although the GM should exercise discretion in the case of large objects that you are only passing by. The flames emanating from you do not harm you or your gear, although any fires that they set may.
Ascended Create Fire Elementals: When you invoke this power you may turn one initiate into a fire elemental for every twenty levels of initiates present (not including you). They are transformed into Greater Fire Elementals, with all powers and abilities, and, although they retain their own mind, they cannot use any of their own powers or abilities while in elemental form. Elementals created in this way will have 5 hp per HD. If they should be killed then their Elemental form is dispelled and they return to themselves as they were before the transformation.

Sun Domain Talent

Tier Benefit
Expert Harness the Sun: While in natural light, you may gather sunlight into yourself and store it for later use. You may use this stored energy as illuminating light. You may shed light for an equal amount of time that you spent gathering the sunlight that day. You can choose for this light to emanate from your skin, from an article of your clothing or an item you hold in your hand, but you must be in contact with the item you wish to make glow. This power is a supernatural ability, and acts as the light spell for purposes of brightness and countering darkness effects. All stored sunlight is lost at the next sunrise.
Heroic Lightstrike: Your dedication to your deity causes any weapon you wield to become infused with positive energy. This effect allows you to critically hit undead creatures (or any creature that would take damage from positive energy). In addition, any special ability you possess that would do extra damage dice (such as a rogue’s sneak attack) also affects said creatures. This power is always in effect, but requires you to be in sunlight for at least one hour each day. The power will end 24 hours after your last exposure to sunlight.
Master Solar Aura: Once per day you can, as a standard action, call forth a glowing aura. While glowing, you are immune to paralysis, energy drain and ability drain. Any darkness effect you comein contact with is immediately dispelled. In addition you receive a +2 divine bonus to AC and all saving throws against attacks from undead opponents. The aura glows faintly, causing a -2 circumstance penalty to Hide skill checks, but is not bright enough to provide any sort of significant illumination. The aura lasts 1 minute per character level.
Champion Helioform: You gain the supernatural ability of Fast Healing 2 while in sunlight. During the day during inclement weather, such as rain, fog or snow, you only gain Fast Healing 1. This power does not function indoors or underground, unless there is a bean of sunlight at least 5 feet wide you can stand in.
Legendary Corona: You can surround yourself with a powerful ball of light once per day for up to 1 round per character level. The ball radiates sunlight in a 50 foot radius. All creatures within 60 feet are blinded and take 3d6 points f damage, though a successful Reflex save (DC 25) negates the blindness and reduces the damage by half. Blinded creature suffer a 50% miss chance in combat, lose any Dexterity bonus to AC, grant a +2 bonus to attackers’ attack rolls (as they are effectively invisible), move at half speed, and suffer a -4 penalty on most Strength- and Dexterity-based skills. Creatures to whom sunlight is harmful or unnatural take double damage. Undead creatures caught within the ray are dealt 15d6 damage, but get a Reflex save (DC 25) for half. In addition, the radiance destroys undead creature specifically affected by sunlight if they fail their saves. The ultraviolet light generated by the spell also deals damage to fungi, mold, oozes, slimes, jellies, puddings, and fungoid creatures just as if they were undead creatures. Invoking this power is a standard action.
Ascended Army of Light: Calling forth the power of your deity, you may empower a number of initiates equal to your Wisdom modifier to combat creatures of darkness. All those affected gain the following benefits:

  • All of their weapons glow with a brilliant aura, gaining the ghost touch and bane: evil creatures weapon qualities. Their weapons also automatically do double damage against Negative Energy or undead creatures.
  • They gain a +4 divine bonus to AC and saving throws against undead opponents.
  • All attacks against them suffer a 20% miss chance due to the dazzling brilliance.
  • All darkness effects they come in contact with are immediately dispelled.
  • They become immune to any spell with the [Shadow] descriptor.
  • Creatures within 60 feet of them that suffer adversely from sunlight are affected as if they were standing in full daylight.

This power may only be invoked once per day, and requires a full-round action. Initiates must be within 60 feet of the ascended, no two of which can be more than 30 feet apart. This power only affects initiates of the same god, not initiates of another god that also grants the Sun domain. This power is a supernatural ability.

Water Domain Talent

Tier Benefit
Expert Breathe Water: You gain the supernatural ability to breathe water as if it were air. This power is always in effect. In addition, you may cast spells with verbal components while underwater with no penalty.
Heroic Resist Fire: You gain an inherent resistance to all fire damage, granting you 2 points of fire resistance per round per character level. In addition, you gain a +4 divine bonus to all saving throws against fir-based spells.
Master Dowsing: You gain an inherent affinity with all water so that you may detect at will the location of any water, whether it is standing or flowing, its temperature, and if it contains any impurities or unusual properties. You can detect the location of water at up to one mile distance, even deep underground. Within 30 feet of any water you can detect its properties. This includes the ability to detect any poison that is dissolved in water, or whether water is unsafe to drink for any reason. It will allow you automatically detect the difference between a gray ooze and a puddle of water, for example, or to automatically detect the presence of a water elemental.
Champion Watercraft: You gain a supernatural control over water so that you can fashion water into a solid object. For example, you may turn a puddle of water into a sword that behaves exactly like a normal sword. You may turn a larger supply of water into a solid door, or a handful of water into a key. The item will retain its shape and solidity only for as long as it is in your possession. You cannot give the water object to another creature or put it down. Also, you may only have one such object at any time, but otherwise you can use the ability an unlimited number of times. Forming an object from water takes a full round action. The size of the object cannot be greater than 10 cubic feet, and cannot have a hardness greater than that of steel.
Legendary Water Form: This ability is similar to the Wildshape ability of the druid. Once per day you may take one full round action to change yourself and equipment to become semi-liquid. You may remain in this form as long as you wish, and it takes one full round to change back to your normal state. Changing into the water form will heal you for on hit point per character level. In this form you will be able to flow like a thick liquid or jelly, squeezing through tiny cracks or fitting into a compact space. While in this form you are not solid enough to make physical attacks or use any skills that require strength or dexterity. Your senses, however, will function normally. You may cast only spells that do not have a verbal or somatic component. While in this form you take half damage from all piercing or slashing weapons. In addition, if you have the Resist Fire feat, while in this form the fire resistance is increased by 10 hit points per round.
Ascended Create Water Elementals: When you invoke this power you may turn one initiate into a water elemental for every twenty levels of initiates present (not including you). They are transformed into Greater Water Elementals, with all powers and abilities, and, although they retain their own mind, they cannot use any of their own powers or abilities while in elemental form. Elementals created in this way will have 5 hp per HD. If they should be killed then their Elemental form is dispelled and they return to themselves as they were before the transformation.

4 Comments

  1. hadsil

    If you do threads of the deity, you don’t need separate “Domain powers”. The minor and major thread abilities serve the same function. It would be better to make each Domain a thread instead of a thread of a deity granting all the Domains.

    Thread of a deity has two issues:

    1) The character spent one talent for all the spells he’ll get then use his others for everythign else. You may not think that’s a bad thing, but it could lead to a warrior character “more powerful” than a non-spellcasting warrior character at being a warrior. (You once wrote that if I think something makes a player character too powerful you need to take a second look. :b )

    2) The cleric-type character really couldn’t spend another talent on a different deity thread. (Unless said character specifically worships the pantheon). As such, he’s very limited on spells. Some players want to be a spellcaster-type cleric-type.

    Domains as threads gives the flexibility. Spellcaster types can go all out. Paladin wannabes can min/max to their heart’s content in mixing warrior stuff and spellcasting stuff.

  2. I expect I’ll have each domain provide a thread (for the spellcasters). The minor and major powers I have included in part simply because they were already present in the thread descriptions I had. I wouldn’t feel the least bit bad about removing them.

    I do want to have domain powers separate from the domain spells, though. I really want to have as viable characters those who can call on the power of the gods without actually being spellcasters.

    I kind of expected that if I had a thread for each god to also have a ‘generic cleric’ thread (that might in fact be a ‘pantheon thread’) for the less-deity-specific spells… but I think the thread per domain idea works better.

    As for the ‘hadsil thinks it’s too powerful’ thing, I’m actually not worried about that as long as things are suitable for the level, I *want* high-level characters to be seriously, seriously badass at what they do. Echelon doesn’t have the same petty balance concerns D&D does. However, I do have an abiding interest that the options at each point are comparably attractive for their appropriate builds. “This is really good for wizards” is fine, as long as the fighters have something as really good. If both sets want or need the same goodies (gish aside), something’s not happy.

  3. hadsil

    “I *want* high-level characters to be seriously, seriously badass at what they do.”

    Alright! :D

    Seriously, another reason Domain threads are better is if you plan on publishing Echelon, some DM just want the system and prefer their own gameworld with their own pantheon. It’s easy enough to assign Domains.

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