Heavy Lifting: Guardian Domain

I like how the Defense subdomain (of the Protection domain) looks when applied to the War domain, shifting the focus so it’s a little less aggressive. I think this might be the start of a hybrid domain that would be suitable for more defensive combatants and guardians.

Let’s see how this goes.

Starting Point

I will be trying to create a synthesis of the Protection and War domains, using the Defense subdomain as a guide.

Protection Domain

Granted Powers: Your faith is your greatest source of protection, and you can use that faith to defend others. In addition, you receive a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws. This bonus increases by 1 for every 5 levels you possess.

Resistant Touch (Sp): As a standard action, you can touch an ally to grant him your resistance bonus for 1 minute. When you use this ability, you lose your resistance bonus granted by the Protection domain for 1 minute. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Aura of Protection (Su): At 8th level, you can emit a 30-foot aura of protection for a number of rounds per day equal to your cleric level. You and your allies within this aura gain a +1 deflection bonus to AC and resistance 5 against all elements (acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic). The deflection bonus increases by +1 for every four cleric levels you possess beyond 8th. At 14th level, the resistance against all elements increases to 10. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

Domain Spells: 1st—sanctuary, 2nd—shield other, 3rd—protection from energy, 4th—spell immunity, 5th—spell resistance, 6th—antimagic field, 7th—repulsion, 8th—mind blank, 9th—prismatic sphere

War Domain

Granted Powers: You are a crusader for your god, always ready and willing to fight to defend your faith.

Battle Rage (Sp): You can touch a creature as a standard action to give it a bonus on melee damage rolls equal to 1/2 your cleric level for 1 round (minimum +1). You can do so a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Weapon Master (Su): At 8th level, as a swift action, you gain the use of one combat feat for a number of rounds per day equal to your cleric level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive and you can change the feat chosen each time you use this ability. You must meet the prerequisites to use this feat.

Domain Spells: 1st—magic weapon, 2nd—spiritual weapon, 3rd—magic vestment, 4th—divine power, 5th—flame strike, 6th—blade barrier, 7th—power word blind, 8th—power word stun, 9th—power word kill

Defense Subdomain

Associated Domain: Protection

Replacement Power: The following granted power replaces the resistant touch power of the Protection domain.

Deflection Aura (Su): Once each day, you can emit a 20-foot aura for a number of rounds equal to your cleric level. Allies within the aura gain a +2 deflection bonus to AC and combat maneuver defense.

Replacement Domain Spells: 1st—shield, 2nd—barkskin, 7th—deflection

As indicated above, the Defense subdomain is associated with the Protection domain. I expect the new domain will be associated with both the Protection and War domans.

First Pass

Let’s start by seeing what pieces of the three starting elements I’d like to keep.

I see this ‘guardian’ role as being largely defensive, but more specifically shielding. Some defensive elements might apply only to the cleric, but I would prefer defensive elements that apply to the person or thing being guarded. These defensive elements might still be shared, but the idea is to protect someone or something else.

Being also a specialization of the War domain, though, it should be active, rather than passive. I’d like to see more of an active defense, or at least the ability to act against aggressors.

Finally, an important element of guardianship is watchfulness. It would be good to include some improved ability to perceive threats.

Examination

I like the resistance bonus from the Protection domain. It’s a small matter and applies only to the cleric, but improving saving throws likely improves the ability to guard more than a bonus to Armor Class or the like would. I’ll keep that for now.

Of the first-level domain powers, Deflection Aura (Defense subdomain) is probably the best fit. That it comes from the subdomain suggested that would be so, but that’s not important. This ability applies not only to a creature being protected, but can help a small group that is protecting that creature. Resistant Touch would be a second choice, but it is more limited in the number of creatures protected. The Battle Rage domain power seems out of place for my view of this domain, and I would not use it.

Of the higher-level domain powers, Aura of Protection is a much better fit than Weapon Master. I’m not entirely happy with it because it overlaps Deflection Aura so much (provides only a +1 bonus to start, but in a 30-foot radius and includes resistance 5 against all elements). Unlike Deflection Aura this ability doesn’t need to be used all in one shot, but it has the same daily limit of 1 round per cleric level.

I will probably want to replace one or the other of these abilities, right now they are too close for my taste.

The spell selection between the domains and subdomain don’t entirely suit my vision, either. Obviously shield other (Protection) does, and blade barrier is a nice choice for 6th level because it provides an active defense. The choices (from the domains and subdomain) for each level are

  1. sanctuarymagic weaponshield
  2. shield otherspiritual weaponbarkskin
  3. protection from energymagic vestment
  4. spell immunitydivine power
  5. spell resistanceflame strike
  6. antimagic fieldblade barrier
  7. repulsionpower word blinddeflection
  8. mind blankpower word stun
  9. prismatic spherepower word kill

I had initially not included it, but I decided that prismatic sphere makes a pretty good last-ditch protection spell. It will keep almost everything off the contents and can cause a world of hurt to the ill-prepared to try to push through it — defense and offense in one tidy package.

This gives me a tidy start. It is still heavily leaning toward defense, with both domain powers and a minor granted power all being defensive, and two of the three spells are straight off the Protection list. This feels like it needs some more martial thunk, and I still want some threat detection and avoidance elements. I’ll look into that in the second pass.

Guardian Domain (Specialized)

Granted Powers: You receive a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws. This bonus increases by 1 for every 5 levels you possess.

Deflection Aura (Su): Once each day, you can emit a 20-foot aura for a number of rounds equal to your cleric level. Allies within the aura gain a +2 deflection bonus to AC and combat maneuver defense.

Aura of Protection (Su): At 8th level, you can emit a 30-foot aura of protection for a number of rounds per day equal to your cleric level. You and your allies within this aura gain a +1 deflection bonus to AC and resistance 5 against all elements (acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic). The deflection bonus increases by +1 for every four cleric levels you possess beyond 8th. At 14th level, the resistance against all elements increases to 10. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

Domain Spells:  1st—, 2nd—shield other, 3rd—, 4th—, 5th—, 6th—blade barrier, 7th—, 8th—, 9th—prismatic sphere

Second Pass

I’ll keep the granted powers as they are for now, but I may come back to them later. I still need spells for six of the nine levels.

Spell Examination

Breaking out Echelon Reference Series: Spells (which is not  available for download, but does have some 3,295 spells in it), I’ll take a look for likely-seeming spells. I’ll make note of other spells I’ll want to remember as well, especially if they look like they’d fit a related domain, or even an opposing domain.

Level 1

  • compel hostility, “compels opponents to attack you instead of your allies” sounds promising. (Ultimate Combat, Paizo)
  • keeper’s devotion is like shield other but for objects instead of creatures, lasts for an hour per level, and transfers all hit point damage taken (with a 50% surcharge at that!). Also promising, if ‘guardian’ includes objects. (Grimoire Repartus, from Dreadfox)
  • mistsight, “you can see through mist, fog, and rain” could be quite useful for keeping enemies in view, but with a duration of one minute per level perhaps is not so useful when standing guard. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)
  • murderous command, “target is compelled to kill its ally” is totally and utterly inappropriate for this domain as I see it, but I’m going to have to remember it for something like Trickery+Evil (Betrayal, perhaps?). (Ultimate Magic, Paizo)

I could go into other class lists — I see no reason to limit domain spells to those normally found on the cleric list, and in fact prefer to use non-cleric spells — but I think I’ll go with compel hostility. I think keeper’s devotion is also appropriate, but I’m already pretty ‘Protection-heavy’ here, and a spell that draws the opponent to attack the guardian instead of the guarded better suits the War domain while still be applicable and helpful protecting another creature or an object.

Level 2

I looked through the second-level cleric spell list, but while compassionate ally (Ultimate Magic, Paizo) could be helpful I can’t say I really like the nature of the spell (compels target to heal and protect an injured ally) because it seems like it is intended to potentially compel another PC. I think shield other is still the best fit.

Level 3

  • crown of valor, “you and allies within 60 feet gain +1 on attacks and checks, +2 on saves vs. fear” could be useful to a guardian who is part of a group, but still feels kind of generic and seems to overlap the two domain powers I think are already too similar. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)
  • deadly juggernaut, “your might increases with every kill you make” is another one that doesn’t fit here, but sounds like it might suit something like Destruction+War or Death+War (Slaughter?). (Ultimate Combat, Paizo)
  • invisibility purge, “dispels invisibility within 5 feet/level” could be a good fit, quite useful for discovering invisible enemies in a dangerous situation. (Core Rules, Paizo)
  • nap stack, “subjects only need 2 hours for a night’s sleep, and can sleep even longer for more benefits” could be very useful to a team of guardians. (Advanced Player’s Guide, Paizo)

This is a tough decision. The ability to uncover any invisible creatures that could be a threat, or a relatively miscellaneous utility spell that actually looks like it could be really useful, especially for a team? I’m going to tentatively go with nap stack for now.

Level 4

  • circle of censure, “magical aura damages aberrations, undead, and outsiders” could be useful. It punishes certain types of creatures if they come within a threatening distance. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)
  • sudden aegis, “forfeit one spell to reduce damage subject takes from one source by 10 points per spell level”. Immediate spell, reduces bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage (from a single attack only). I kind of like the idea of being able to interrupt an attack and prevent its damage. (Grimoire Repartus, Dreadfox)

I think sudden aegis is the better fit here. I would accept circle of censure if nothing better was available, but it’s not quite the fit I want.

Level 5

  • guard dog, “summons a guard dog” that stretches the definition somewhat (6 HD). Thematically appropriate, but perhaps the next one is better. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)
  • mage’s faithful hound, “phantom dog can guard a location and attack intruders”, is a little simpler to adjudicate and can perceive invisible and ethereal creatures. (Core Rules, Paizo)
  • untiring, “the target does not need to make Constitution checks related to fatigue or environmental conditions, and isn’t encumbered by weight” almost sounds good, but I think it collides somewhat in intent with nap stack. Also, it would probably be better for something related to Strength (endurance). (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)

I like guard dog, and while I am mostly restricting myself to checking the cleric list it prompted me to specifically look up mage’s faithful hound. Of the two, the ability to detect invisible and ethereal creatures is too useful to ignore. I’m going with mage’s faithful hound for now.

Level 6

I’ve already got blade barrier penciled in, but there are a few here that are interesting.

  • battlelink, “allies can coordinate attack and defense” is something I’ll have to note for later. I probably wouldn’t use it here, but it could be a good fit for Law+War or Community+War. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)
  • blade barrier, “wall of blades deals 1d6/level damage” is currently penciled in. (Core Rules, Paizo)
  • kinslayer, “target is compelled to kill nearest relative”, is obviously not appropriate, but like murderous command could be a fit for Trickery+Evil (Betrayal) or a perversion of the Community domain. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)

Looks like I’ll be sticking with blade barrier.

Level 7

  • eyes on the world, “you can ‘keep an eye on’ an area, creature, or object” almost seems relevant, but I suspect it might be better for Knowledge+Protection. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)
  • refuge, “alters item to transport its possessor to you” could be a handy thing, despite not being inherently ‘protective’ or ‘warlike’ in its base form. I might be tempted to say that it’s always cast in the modified form, transporting the caster the possessor instead. (Core Rules, Paizo)

Yes, I think in the absence of a better choice I’m going to go with refuge, and the use of the modified version is encouraged. I have an image of a guardian giving a token to someone she is concerned about, and instructions to use it if the person feels threatened or in danger. Summoning a 13th-level cleric on short notice sounds suitable protective and warlike.

Level 8

  • call down the thunder, “you call down two columns of intense thunder, damaging and deafening your foes” is not protective, but sounds like a good match for War+Weather or War+Air. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)
  • discern location, “reveals exact location of creature or object” could be useful to a guardian, but doesn’t seem specific enough and I used refuge for the previous level. (Core Rules, Paizo)
  • read intentions, “learn whether or not a subject intends to take any actions toward a specified end”, on the other hand, could be used to see if the subject intends harm to what the guardian protects. However, the spell offers a Will save to negate, is subject to Spell Resistance, and then only gives a contested Sense Motive vs. Bluff check; I would be inclined to drop the skill check, especially since the spell is subtle enough the subject might not know to lie. (Grimoire Cognitas, Dreadfox)

In the absence of a more interesting choice, I’m going with read intentions, modified as described above.

Level 9

  • defensive sphere, “immobile spherical shield makes those inside impervious to attacks”, drew my attention, but I think I like prismatic sphere more. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)
  • greater earth barrier, “a swirling barrier of boulders and granite slates deflects attacks, deals damage to your attackers” sounds like an Earth+War spell to me. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)
  • lord of the city, “you know general status of a city’s population, are aware of major issues and threats, and can find and communicate with anyone in it” is totally irrelevant here, but shouts out for use with a Community specialization. (1001 Spells, Rite Publishing)

I don’t see a better option than prismatic sphere. The ability to protect against a broad range of attacks, keep creatures out, and damage things that challenge the spell is too good a mix of Protection and War to ignore.

Guardian Domain (Specialized)

Granted Powers: You receive a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws. This bonus increases by 1 for every 5 levels you possess.

Deflection Aura (Su): Once each day, you can emit a 20-foot aura for a number of rounds equal to your cleric level. Allies within the aura gain a +2 deflection bonus to AC and combat maneuver defense.

Aura of Protection (Su): At 8th level, you can emit a 30-foot aura of protection for a number of rounds per day equal to your cleric level. You and your allies within this aura gain a +1 deflection bonus to AC and resistance 5 against all elements (acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic). The deflection bonus increases by +1 for every four cleric levels you possess beyond 8th. At 14th level, the resistance against all elements increases to 10. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

Domain Spells:  1st—compel hostility, 2nd—shield other, 3rd—nap stack, 4th—sudden aegis, 5th—mage’s faithful hound, 6th—blade barrier, 7th—refuge (favoring modified version), 8th—read intentions, 9th—prismatic sphere

Closing Comments

I ended up with some defensive abilities (the domain powers, shield othersudden aegis) and some options for mixed effects (compel hostility can draw attacks off the object or person being guarded, mage’s faithful hound can attack but is a good intruder-detector, blade barrier is a good way to hedge opponents out, refuge can be used to either bring the guarded person near or drop an angry high-level cleric on the bad guys, prismatic sphere is hard to penetrate and painful to try). I’ve even got a few utility spells that are useful to guardians, with nap stack greatly increasing the capacity to guard and read intentions to help identify potential threats in a subtle way.

I’m still not entirely satisfied with the domain powers. I’d like to see some active defense, defense through aggression, but since guardianship is a more defensive thing than offensive (… mostly) I’ll accept it for now.

Guardian Domain
Guardian Domain

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5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Specialized Domain: Guardian Domain | Keith Davies — In My Campaign - Keith's thoughts on RPG design and play.

  2. I think refuge could work either way around: the protectee may find themselves in a situation where the best way to defend them is just “Get me out of here!”.

    I agree that compassionate ally sounds like a pretty weird spell. nap stack, on the other hand, just has a pretty weird name.

    • Indeed, refuge can work either way around. For pure defense, evacuation is often (most often?) the better answer. Being a hybrid of the War domain, though, I thought perhaps it would favor the guardian dropping in and kicking ass instead. Either use is legitimate.

  3. Pingback: Hybrid Domain: Guardian Domain | Keith Davies — In My Campaign - Keith's thoughts on RPG design and play.

  4. Pingback: Hybrid Domain: Abyss Domain | In My Campaign - Thoughts on RPG design and play

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