Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

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SmootRK
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Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:09 pm

I am toying with the idea of removing Deities, and by that, Clerical Magic (including druids) will be gone. I have been in similar games elsewhere, but I have not seen this done directly for BFRPG before.

The rationale of the modification comes from my family's Catholic faith. While I do not have any problem separating my games and fiction from real world religion and faith, I wonder if my children might just be better off without having to make comparisons. Also, my wife is extremely devout, and largely does not game; I think she would have the weirdest time reconciling it all if she begins to game with us (the rest of the family). My thinking is that it is just easier to avoid the whole idea, than to try to make the concepts mesh... at least if I want my wife to participate without feeling like she is doing something wrong.
...And this is just while the members of family become accustomed to the gaming concepts. I have no doubt that later, once mature views have developed that we can get to 'normal' games in due time.

So with rationale detailed, what could be done to make this work smoothly and without much alteration to the game otherwise.
My first inclination is to simply expand MU roles a bit. Perhaps the spell lists can be re-defined a little differently, and each MU must choose his/her affiliation between:
  • White Mage - protections and healing in the spell list
    Grey Mage - Normal MU for the most part
    Black Mage - think Necromancer/Grave Master, probably NPC only for my family
    Brown Mage - Nature MU, think druid magic re-skinned for a MU
I think I can also incorporate other MU variants alongside this such as Fey-Mage (my alt-sorcerer) or something like the Pyromancer (Red Mage maybe)... but I will think on these later.

What other things should I consider to fill any voids left with the removal of clerics? Clerics do fill a role as a backup to fighters... but then again, I allow several fighter flavors in my campaign (ranger, knight, gladiator, and quasi-class variants as well).

fyi - it is really a shame that I do this, as I really like clerics (and druids) for characters. I even have a Priest (cloister cleric) sort of class on the forums here somewhere. Lots of good role-play to be found in trying to preach and teach for each deity's values. In the Marketstone Campaign, Nivek is always extolling the virtues of toiling away! Honest pay for honest day's work... and all that.
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Joe the Rat
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Re: Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:05 pm

Some other breakdowns:

Dragonlance has the white/red/black, though they are tied to alignment as well as inclination. Their white was about a stone's throw from a defense cleric/priest as-is.

JRPGs (Think Final Fantasy) also play around with the colors, starting with Black = MU, White = MU with a hammer that casts cleric spells, and Red Mage = Bard. Then they added Blue, and I'm not even gonna ask.

Tolkien had a wide range of wizards of color (I think my next Halloween costume will be Balderdash the Purple), but they're closer to being clerics in functionality. Hmm...

Goodkind had the whole additive/subtractive thingy... healing would be an additive effect.

I'm big on the Inner Planes / Classical Elements motifs. You could have a class of Mage that runs perpendicular to the "traditional" philosophy - positive and negative energy. All of the deliciousness of light and darkness themes, plus healing, plus undead influence. Technically, the necromancer fits into this axis.

As a twist on this, use each element as a touchstone for one of six schools - each as a specialty, though not necessarily an elementalist specialty. Pyromancers are already written, and roll nicely with fire, but Illusionists could be tied to air or water, druids or artificers aligned to earth, etc. Negative Necromancers, Positive Protectors... it could work.

Looking at the healing aspect as a Life school of magic might help for sorting.

You might consider making a half-mage class to fit roughly into the cleric weight class - akin to the Thug hybrid, you'd have some magic (oh, let's use cleric progression. It's a nice counterbalance) and/or limited lists, but have better fighting (though not with all weapons) and some armor training. This doesn't have you be your cleric per se, either.

I guess it depends on how much work you want to put into it. Regardless of how it specializes, make healing potions a purely alchemical proposition - any wizard could learn the formula.
Sir Bedivere
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Re: Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:39 pm

I can think of two options right off.

First, keep the cleric class as it is, but rename it and make it another kind of magic-user.

Second, Ars Magica keeps the Catholic Church in the game, which is another way to approach it. The world of Morgansfort has psuedo-Catholic & Reformed churches; why not just make them explicitly Catholic? You can drop the reformed part as well. This could be dangerous (wouldn't want to teach heresies in the game!), but it could also help educate the kids in the faith if it was done well.

Ars Magica is a more complex system than I'd want to run, but I really like their Mythical Europe setting; I've been very tempted to run a BF game in own homegrown version of it.
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Re: Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:51 pm

The inherent ambiguity of religious magic in Morgansfort is a nod to this line of thinking. Two priests of different pagan religions might worship gods whose domain overlaps (i.e. two different gods of thunder); yet, each priest gets spells. Likewise, the clerics of the two parallel religions devoted to the worship of Tah get the exact same spells.

It's intended that the GM may either (a) play it straight (the gods are "real" in the sense that they do in fact intervene in the real world) or (b) play it that clerics are a sort of alternative magic-user who get power from faith (in this case, willpower) instead of from knowledge (i.e. intelligence). Going with (b) makes religion ambiguous and unprovable... truly a matter of faith.

Just like the real world.
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SmootRK
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Re: Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:35 am

Well I don't utilize alignment, and I want the simplest sort of modification so that I don't have to do major overhauls to every module or adventure whenever a cleric is indicated... simply moving the clerical spell list fully into the magic-user list seems easy, and I can pencil in something like white/grey/black (and brown for druid stuff). Some spells might have more than one color.

To help make weapon use consistent between indicated clerics and their new alternate MU identity, I might allow Mace for White, Scimitar for Black & Brown (grave master and druids use them). Armor is something I might have to think more on...
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Hartygan
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Re: Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:19 am

Hi there. First post for the forums, but found this topic interseting.
First, this is a FANTASY world where almost anything is posible. After all, how many Magic Users do you know, or Elves and Dwarves (in RPG terms)?
But I understand your dilema. So go ahead and remove the Dieties, but keep The Diety. Have a religion based on "The One God", and instead of a Cleric call him a Devoted, or Churchman, or maybe a Cure (just google "cleric synonyms"). This way you still have a religion in your world, and it worships one God. Its not Catholic, or anything else, its just the religion of The One God. That way there is less conflict with multiple churches, and no conflict with multiple dieties.
So what does power you magic users? Is it their will power, or a well-spring of magic, or those funny little symbols they make when casting.
In your Devoteds case, it is his faith in The One God. And you have heard of Faith Healers before. If you want to get him away from being related to the church, then I read a series of books where they had Star Song in the Universe. It was the sound of the stars moving, or some such thing. So you could use this for you Devoteds power, and when he "prays" he is just being quiet to link himself to the Star Song for the day.
You could still have Druids too if you want. They dont worship a Diety, but maybe their close affinity with Nature lets them draw on the power of living plants to cast their spells. The Druids of old had Leylines of power, so your Druids could always draw on the magnetic power of the world if you want.

Thats my 2 cents.
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Re: Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:51 pm

The more I thought about my earlier ideas, the less I like putting the Catholic Church into the game when young children are playing. It's fine for adults, but with little kids I can see how that could be confusing.

Although it sounds like you've found a good solution, if anyone wanted a more sophisticated solution, maybe the Narnia books could provide a model.
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SmootRK
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Re: Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:15 pm

Yes, my kids (the ones playing) are from 7 to 12, and 2 of them are not Catholic but are more Evangelical. I would rather not have them go home and freak out their parents either (though they are friends of ours). Just seems easier if I don't have to make comparisons, be overly vague, or otherwise have to defend and convince others about the non-occultness of what we are doing while fighting trolls and goblins.

So far it has not been an issue, as we have a Druid which I explained more like a nature-Mage anyhow. And there has been 1 cleric around a few times. The cleric was described more like an undead hunter sort of person who can display a holy symbol to combat undead like one does against vampires in the movies.

That does bring up the topic of Turning undead, which might be a good thing overall to lose. Makes undead all the more frightening. Mundane undead will have more impact against a greater range of pc levels with no actual clerics around. Anyhow, FYI I will be keeping Holy quasi class, so there will be some options forthat sort of Good characters to be around when I need that sort of support.
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Hartygan
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Re: Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:50 pm

Another thought, why not take from the native american culture and make the cleric a Shaman instead?
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Re: Removal of Deities (and Clerics) in our game

Post Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:23 am

IIRC the Cleric in D&D was based on the Christian clerics who where to battle the infidels (they use blunt weapons so the victims could survive battle and be converted or killed), so you can take an aproach similar to this, they work for The Church and they pray God (or The One God), alternative use the Priest Subclass, an limit the spells to healling/buff/bust effect and include one or to "miracle type" spells.
Another way is to take the Priest, eliminate the "magical" abilities and give him "clerical knowledge", "healing" and some other skills that emulate the Divine Powers.
You can even use the "Turning ability" as an "Convert Infidels" :D
Be thankfull they accept the existance of Magic Users as "normals" and not as devils worshipers! :lol:
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