In the last post, Power Sources I: Polishing a Half-baked Idea, I described my general approach to creating a power system as part of making a D&D 4e homebrew. So, let’s walk through the making of one of the power sources.
A generic power source format
First, I found it useful to imagine a sort of generic power source format. I could depart from it, but that would give me an idea of how much stuff and power I was trying to fit in the power source. I used races as a guideline and decided that the basic format would be the following.
- A choice of a a single specialty (among 5-8 options) within the power source
- Each specialty grants 2-3 default features
- Access to options that require the power source as a prerequisite
- Heroic, paragon, and epic feats
- Feats for the chosen specialty
- A paragon path
- An epic destiny
The Divine Power Source
The 4e divine source was definitely my initial inspiration. It already had a clear flavor and, with domains and deities, a range of options for players to choose among. I still needed to make some changes though. In particular, since I was eliminating races, I could beef up domains to make them more powerful. Each domain would have a unique flavor, but generally, divine power source and classes would have repeated motifs:
- Divination and Healing powers and rituals
- Euphoria, Fear, Madness and Radiant damage
- Affiliations with a specific temple and worship of a specific deity
The concept of channeling divinity runs through a number of versions of D&D, and I liked the idea that PCs are channeling the will of their deity to grant miracles. In-game, the idea of how channeling works is a bit more detailed, but in terms of mechanics, all divine classes gained the ability to use channel divinity powers (starting with a single use per encounter) and access to feats that either
- key off the use of channel divinity
- grant extra uses of channel divinity
- or granted different effects when players channel divinity.
These “channel divinity” powers are considered separate from their class powers, although in-character, the PC is being a conduit for their god for both types of powers.
I kept the divine classes largely the same, except for streamlining the class options and changing a bit of the flavor. Also, I moved the Runepriest out of the divine power sources, since it didn’t seem to have much to do with divinity, plus all the leader role was already covered by the cleric class.
The Cleric Class stayed mostly the same. It’s the divine leader (healer). In 4e, there were a lot of different versions of this – melee weapon battle clerics, ranged implement pacifist clerics, and everything in between. I focused the features and powers of the class on ranged implements to better differentiate the class from the paladin and the inquisitor. I was, and am still, tempted to change the name to “priest” though, and put a thematic focus on clerics being ordained in the religion and focused on theological leadership of the parishioners.
The Inquisitor Class was originally the Avenger class. I wanted to disassociate it from the Marvel Avengers (in my head, at least) and also give it more of a Torquemada/Van Helsing/Hand of Light vibe. This class is about characters who hunting down the spiritual enemies of the church, whether that means witchcraft experts that carefully monitor the demon-ridden sorcerers or spy-trained clergy who act as IAD for church officers or ecclesiastic bounty hunters who go off into the wilderness to find and take out the source of an evil cult. In terms of tactical role, I left it pretty intact – it’s a weapon-wielding melee striker with high DPR that focuses on a single target as a time. I was tempted to make call this class the crusader, but then it starts to overlap with the paladin a bit conceptually, since they’d both be divine knight types.
The Paladin Class I kept pretty much the same tactically – it’s the charismatic, melee-weapon, divine defender with some healing. The only real change I made was to grant them polearms and heavy blades as implements for the occasional implement power.
The Saint Class is renamed, slightly reflavored invoker. I kept it as the divine controller, which I’ve loved playing in 4e. But I wanted a clearer archetype, and the name “invoker” was too made-up for me. I felt like a saint was conceptually different than the other divine classes, yet keeps the flavor of someone who is in the direct service of the god in a way that completely bypasses the church hierarchy.
Domains & Deities
I also wanted to streamline the number of domains and deities. At first I tried to create a domain-based system, and was able to pare down the list to about 15 domains. But then I read Lois Mcmaster Bujold’s World of the Five Gods series, and it really inspired me, especially how it blended fantasy theology with the magic system.
Like the name says, the setting has five gods, and I decided to model my gods after hers. But then it occurred to me to that I didn’t need to create a game system to could handle all possible fantasy stories, I only trying to create one that could handle the world I was building. So I got rid of domains as a separate concept and instead had divine characters choose one of the five gods as a patron.
In general, I decided to use the “Power of” series of 4e divine feats + turn undead as the basis for the divine classes. So each divine PC gains a +2 bonus to a skill appropriate to the god, gains a slight damage boost and flavor to one at-will power of their choice, and gains something like “Turn Undead”, except thematically relevant to the patron god.
So, without further ado, here are the patron gods and what each grants.
Taliesin, the Bastard of the Unseason.
Taliesin is the god of demons, disaster, pranks, chaos, eclipses, arcane magic, homosexuals, balance, thieves, spies, jesters, executioners, revolutionaries, the desperately wronged, and all things out of season. The crow, rat, and coyote are his sacred to him, as is the thumb because it balances the other fingers. His clergy maintain and support orphanages, disaster relief efforts, and insurrection as needed. Divine class PCs who choose Him qualify for feats that focus on stealth, fear, and debuffing enemies. They also gain the Abjure Elementals power (like Abjure Undead, but affects elementals) and gain the Novice of the Bastard feature.
Novice of the Bastard feature: Gain a +2 feat bonus to Arcana rolls. In addition, choose one at-will divine power. When you use that power, you can choose to change its damage type to madness (the power gains the madness keyword and loses the keywords of its former damage types). You also gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll. The bonus increases to +3 at 11th level and +4 at 21st level.
Brighit, the Daughter of Spring
The Daughter is the goddess of creativity, hope, communication, inspiration, luck, talent, painters, scholars, poets, musicians, actors, couriers, builders, teachers, and children. Flowers, anemones, and songbirds are sacred to her, and Her clergy maintain and support schools, academies, artist colonies, and libraries. If you choose the Daughter’s domain, you gain the Novice of the Daughter feat and the Break Construct power (Like Smite Undead, but for constructs), and you also qualify for additional feats that focus on skills, charm effects, saves, and rerolls.
Novice of the Daughter: You gain a +2 feat bonus to all knowledge checks. In addition, choose one at-will divine power. When you use that power, you can choose to change its damage type to euphoria (the power gains the euphoria keyword and loses the keywords of its former damage types). You also gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll. The bonus increases to +3 at 11th level and +4 at 21st level.
Dagda, the Father of Winter
The Father is the god of truth, law, authority, strategy, death, underground, bureaucracy, winter, virility, judges, investigators, miners, accountants, merchants, and patriarchs. Wolves, dragons, condors, and mountain tops are sacred to him. His clergy support many governments’ judiciary, constabulary, treasury, military planning and advisory offices. If you choose the Father’s domain, you gain the Novice of the Father feat and the Turn Undead power, and you also qualify for additional feats that focus on cold and necrotic effects and buffing yourself and allies.
Novice of the Father: You gain a +2 feat bonus to Discipline rolls. In addition, choose one at-will divine power. When you use that power, you can choose to change its damage type to cold (the power gains the cold keyword and loses the keywords of its former damage types). You also gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll. The bonus increases to +3 at 11th level and +4 at 21st level.
Dainu, the Mother of Summer
The Mother is the goddess of medicine, psionic abilities, fertility, breeding, summer, fertility, home, fire, sunlight, growth, healers, mothers, midwives, herbalists, farmers, psychics, mutants, herders, and matriarchs. Swans, cows, and corn are sacred to her. Her clergy support and maintain hospitals, clinics, botanical gardens, community gardens and orchards, and granaries. If you choose the Mother’s domain, you gain the Novice of the Mother feat and the Rebuke Aberration feat (like Rebuke Undead, but for Aberrations), and you also qualify for additional feats that focus on fire and stasis effects, regeneration and healing.
Novice of the Mother: You gain a +2 feat bonus to Healing rolls. In addition, choose one at-will divine power. When you use that power, you can choose to change its damage type to fire (the power gains the fire keyword and loses the keywords of its former damage types). You also gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll. The bonus increases to +3 at 11th level and +4 at 21st level.
Herne, the Son of Autumn
The Son is a god of hunting, competition, the wilderness, storms, chivalry, natural beasts, courage, hunters, athletes, explorers, questing knight, and hermits. His clergy support military units, menageries, training grounds, wilderness preserves, and athletic competitions. If you choose the Son’s domain, you gain the Novice of the Son feat and the Command the Beast power, and you also qualify for additional feats that focus on lighting and thunder effects, additional damage, and feats of physical prowess.
Novice of the Son: You gain a +2 feat bonus to Athletics rolls. In addition, choose one at-will divine power. When you use that power, you can choose to change its damage type to thunder (the power gains the thunder keyword and loses the keywords of its former damage types). You also gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll. The bonus increases to +3 at 11th level and +4 at 21st level.
The Divine at Higher Tiers
I eliminated races, as well as class-based paragon paths and epic destines. Instead I had a couple dozen generic, power source-based, and theme-based paths and destinies. This meant each character has a choice of at least four paths and destinies – more if they take a multi-class or multi-theme feat to get access to others. The paths and destinies I created were mish-mashes and variations of features and powers
I then took my favorite features and redistributed them among as feats and powers as needed, allowing me to beef up the selection for classes that had weaker selection of feats and powers. Win-win.
Archdivine Paragon Path
I wanted a paragon path that worked with any of the divine classes, and which mechanically focused on channel divinity and the motifs common to the divine power source. In the end, I focused on the Archdivine.
As an archdivine, you’ve achieved power and authority within your church, and you now have the responsibility to carve a path forward for both yourself and all who look to you for leadership. An archdivine has a clear and significant role within a temple. You are able to officiate ceremonies, such as weddings, funerals, and high holy days. Although you will have high rank and respect, temple hierarchy and politics means ordained clergy and dedicats within your temple won’t necessarily follow your orders simply because of your status.
Ordination (11th Level): Gain the rituals Create Holy Water, Divine Sight, Funeral Miracle, and Succor. If you didn’t already have it, you gain the Ritual Caster feat.
Searing Divinity (11th Level): When you use any Channel Divinity power, you can also choose an enemy within 5 squares of you to take radiant damage equal to your Primary Ability modifier.
Admonishing Sermon (11th Level)
Your sermon affects your enemies in their heart of hearts, and they reel back, admonished to do no more harm to your friends.
Encounter Standard Action [Divine, Implement] Target: Each enemy in Close burst 2
Attack: Primary Ability vs. Will
Hit: 3d6 + Primary Ability modifier damage, and you push the target 2 squares. If the target is then adjacent to a bloodied ally, the target is also dazed until the end of your next turn.
Burning Radiance (15th Level): Whenever you hit with a power that has the radiant keyword, the target gains vulnerability 10 to radiant damage until the end of your next turn.
Glorious Channeler (20th Level): You gain a second use of the Channel Divinity utility power. Also, you gain one additional Divinity Power Feat for which you meet the prerequisites as a bonus feat.
Exalted Angel Epic Destiny
Like the paragon path, I wanted the epic destiny to focus on the motifs and features common to all divine classes.
As an Exalted Angel, you’re an deep channel to your deity on this plane. This constant communion with your deity has infused you with its divine essence and transformed your understanding of reality and power. The remnants of your mortality still cling to you and allow you to stay on this plane and affect the material world. But when you finish letting go of your frail human shell, you will join your God and leave this plane forever. In the mean time, as an exalted angel you treated with reverence and a bit of fear from common people. They believe your enlightenment has forged you into an alien being, unconcerned with worldly issues like rank and power and dirt and pain and fear. And they are not entirely wrong.
Angelic Grace (21st level): Your origin changes to immortal, and you cease to age. You gain resist to 15 fear, necrotic, radiant, and toxic. You gain a +2 bonus to Fortitude and Will and cannot be dominated; any attack or effect that would dominate you dazes you instead.
Angelic Wings (21st level): You gain a pair of angelic wings, which you can manifest or conceal as a minor action. While your wings are manifested, you can fly at a speed equal to your speed + 2, but you land at the end of your turn. If your turn ends while you are still flying, you swiftly descend and land without taking falling damage. While your wings are concealed, your angelic nature is hidden, and you resemble the mortal you once were.
Exalted Manifestation (25th level) While your angelic wings are manifested, you can hover. (You no longer need to land at the end of your turn) and holy light streams from your visage. Your halo gives off bright light within 5 squares, and you gain a +2 bonus to Influence and Religion rolls. You can use each of your Channel Divinity powers once per encounter.
Ecstasy of Divine Communion (30th level) Whenever you use a radiant attack power, the attack deals 2d6 extra euphoria damage. Whenever you use a euphoria attack power, the attack deals 2d6 extra radiant damage.
Reborn in Light (30th level)
Your wounded body disappears in a flash of radiance, affecting everything around it only to return moments later, glowing with divinity and healing.
Daily Immediate Interrupt [Divine, Healing, Radiant] Target: Each enemy in Close burst 2
Trigger: You would drop to 0 hit points of fewer because of an enemy attack or effect
Attack: Primary Ability vs. Will
Hit: 10 radiant damage, and the target is knocked prone.
Effect: Each enemy within two hexes of you takes 10 radiant damage and is knocked prone, and each ally within two hexes of you gains 10 temporary hit points. You disappear, removed from this plane. At the start of your next turn, you reappear in a column of light having regained hit points equal to your healing surge value and with all harmful effects ended.
So, that’s how I made divine power source (not including the feats and class powers, because then this would be a 7,000 word post and its too long as it is). Really, I did the least amount of changes with divine, but it started the process. If you liked this and want more of the other five, let me know in the comments. Otherwise I’ll get back to shorter posts on other topics.