Clerics of Porphyra
This installment of the “…of Porphyra”-series clocks in at 36 pages, 1 page editorial, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 32 pages of content, though these are A5 (6” by 9”)-sized and thus, you can fit up to 4 of the pages comfortably on one sheet of paper.
All right, we begin this supplement with several new archetypes, the first of which would be the betrothed, sown to celibacy and being wed to the deity’s principles. These characters receive just one domain, but receives a bonded ring as a bonded object for divine casting. These guys may also forego a +1d6 progression of channel energy in lieu of receiving a teamwork feat they qualify for, which is a nice rules-operation.
The second archetype would be the cycle thrall, who are prohibited from taking the Death and Healing domains and locked into an elemental domain. These clerics lose all healing and necormancy spells from their spell-list, but may choose up to 2 evocations from the sorc/wiz-list per spell level, which are then treated as divine spells. This power-boost does kill off spontaneous spellcasting, though. Additionally, their channel energy is significantly modified, instead being based on d4s, Ref-saves and it inflicts energy damage as per the element chosen. Nice take on the elemental cleric.
Dominionist clerics get only one domain, but selects 2 powers form the domain’s subdomains. Instead of spontaneous spellcasting, they may 1/day as a SU cast any detect divination via their philosophical divine focus substitute. The favored keeper gets only one domain, but receives a familiar, but may channel energy through the familiar, provided it is within 50 ft. – as a swift action. I *assume* that the swift action is in addition to the usual activation of channel energy, otherwise, this would allow for +1 channel per round, which is pretty nasty. The wording here could be a tad bit more explicit.
The favored tamer, you guessed it, is locked into the animal domain and replaces the animal domain’s usual companion with a full-progression animal companion and 5th level providing a DR or resistance based on the patron deity. Personally, I think the loss of one domain may be a bit overvalued here…but then again, clerics don’t have Handle Animal and the domain doesn’t grant it as a class skill either…so that may either be intended or a balancing mechanism. Personally, I would have added that to the archetype.
Friars receive +2 class skills and receive 4 + Int-mod skills per level and their proficiency list is cut down to 5 simple weapons, light armor and shields, excluding tower shields. Now here is the thing – the archetype chooses a simple weapon to have affinity with at 1st level, +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter – with these weapons, the archetype treats class level as BAB, becoming basically a full BAB-warrior. To offset this, these guys diminish their spellcasting by 1 spell each level and they are locked into the Community domain as one of the two domains chosen. Additionally, when channeling energy, they gain +1 to AC for 1 round, which increases by +1 at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter.
Left hand clerics do not gain access to inflict spells, adding Wis-mod when using healing spells or channeling energy and they may choose Healing and Protection as domains, even if they are not usually on the list of their deities – which usually are EVIL, if the name did not tip you off. Oh, and they may only channel positive energy, obviously. Before you’re asking – yes, there would be a negative-energy-using Right hand equivalent for good faiths requiring some executioners.
Martyrs add Intimidate to the class skill list and must select the martyr subdomain. They gain a bonus to Intimidate skill checks, more so when they are below half maximum hit points – not the biggest fan of that. Cool: They can only channel when injured by an enemy, but may do so as an immediate action…oh, and there is a scaling percentile chance that they return from the dead as per resurrection.
The mysterious way archetype adds Bluff, Sleight of Hand and Stealth to the class skills and modifies the proficiency lists. They may choose Extra Rogue Talent as a feat, using cleric level as rogue level. Instead of channel energy, they may 3 + Cha-mod times employ Silent Spell sans spell level increase. Penitents replace channel energy with one penance – there are 8 provided and they are unique in that they eliminate magic item slots, but provide flavorful, interesting bonuses and restrictions – burdened clerics can e.g. carry significantly more and are better at resisting Bull Rush, Overrun, etc. Very flavorful and interesting.
Priests of the Covenant gains one domain’s spells, but not its powers. They come in 6 variants, one per attribute, with 1st level providing passive benefits that scale and 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter providing SPs and further passive benefits, with the capstone providing significant benefits, like immunity to Con drain…speaking of which: Pretty nice to see is that aforementioned Con-covenant even has an undead-caveat. Good call!
The pdf also contains a hybrid class, the pillar, which is a blend of cleric and cavalier that receives d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves. Proficiency-wise, the pillar receives proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as with the deity’s favored weapon and all types of armor as well as shields, excluding tower shields. The pillar also receives prepared divine spellcasting governed by Wisdom, drawn from the cleric’s list. They chose two domains and only receive the domain powers, but not the respective domain spells.
Once per day, the pillar may engage in a trial-by-combat, which is basically a challenge that only works with the favored weapon, usable +1/day every 3 levels beyond 1st. The pillar adds + class level to damage, but takes a -2 penalty to AC versus attack from other targets and the ability is treated as challenge for the purpose of ability interactions. They also begin play with an animal companion mount, the so-called stalwart mount, which sports several modifications of the basic companion-engine. Starting at 3rd level, the pillar receives a bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate while mounted, which improves at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Of course, level 1 unlocks order, but does not grant the skill bonuses and class skills granted by the order. 5th level lets the pillar perform a ritual that offers a magic weapon to the deity, who then replaces it with an equivalent version of the favored weapon. Neat!
8th level lets him choose up to Cha-mod allies, granting them a +1 bonus to a single save for 24 hours. NO, they cannot be escalated/stacked – only one in effect per character. 11th level allows for the free maximizing of healing spells by increasing casting time to 1 minute, with 14th level makes the attacks during trial by combat aligned, while 17th level provides a single head slot item for the item’s cost, rather than the price – cost to create would be more precise, but that is me nitpicking cosmetics. The capstone nets immunity to crits and bull rush, reposition and tripping for the mount. The class also comes with a diverse array of favored class options for regular and Porphyran races. All in all, a decent, if not too amazing hybrid class.
The pdf also sports the new porphyrite domain, which provides minor scaling resistance to all elements and use either positive or negative energy to damage elementals as well as reroll the 1s rolled there. 8th level makes all your weapons be treated as porphyrite, which bypasses an elemental’s untyped DR. When choosing the borders subdomain, you replace the latter ability with the option to draw porphyrite borders that require Will-saves to cross for hard terrain control – cool! The second subdomain, geranite, is associated with time, allows you to perform a stuttering strike a limited amount of times per day – if you’re not familiar with that ability of the 3.X chronorebel PrC – basically, a foe takes the same damage again next round. Spell-replacements etc. are solid – no complaints.
The pdf also sports a total of 16 feats that include adding anti-pala or pala spells to the pillar’s spell-list (which is imho OP for a feat and further blurs the line between pala and pillar), limited access to druid spells, mastering the deity’s chosen instrument or weapons, adding cleric spells to the bard spell-list, making daily sanctified bullets (no, can’t be sold/cheesed) or use cure spells to repair items – which may be a true boon for all those construct-y races out there. Cool: Making 5 holy symbol shurikens per day from very powerful special materials. That being said, the feat should have scaling – adamantine is worth more than silver, for example, and as such should be unlocked at higher levels. though the feat’s prereqs keep the option from being broken – not as elegant as I’d like it to be, but fine. Oh, and the option to use channel energy to make holy water bombs? AMAZING. Where’s the cleric/alchemist aspergillum/holy water bomb specialist? I mean, seriously – this feat is inspiring and even gets damage type correct.
The pdf also features alternate rules – one lets 3 divine spellcasters of the same deity declare a divine parish, which nets a minor boon. I also like the idea of allowing a cleric to forego channel energy increase with a channel feat. If the mentioned favored music instrument elicited confusion, rest assured that the pdf does spell these out, making adaptation to other settings easy. Death god? Check Porphyra’s version or the psychopomp ushers. And yep, elemental lords etc. included. The pdf closes with a sample pillar, Ceyda Broken-Shield, a hobgoblin…and yes, mount stats included.
Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level. I was pretty impressed by the general level of precision employed – many of the deceptively simple things often overlooked are covered here. Layout adheres to the booklet-size 1-column a5 (6” by 9”)-standard and the pdf sports nice full-color artworks. the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Urgh, ANOTHER cleric book. That was pretty much my first impulse. I’ve seen so many cleric archetypes and modifications, I am hard to please at this point. Let it be known that I was duly impressed by Aaron Hollingsworth’s offering here. As you may know, I do tend to gravitate towards complex, high-concept archetypes and less towards small engine-tweakers, primarily because the latter school of design is often just an excuse for cookie-cutter design.
While this book does feature, as you may have noticed, primarily engine-tweaking options, they have in common that they, for the most part, provide meaningful and interesting customizations, often altering the playing experience significantly. Despite myself, I caught myself contemplating quite a few of these options and while I consider not all of them perfect, they are very well-crafted as a whole. The pillar-class, though, is a somewhat different case – in my book, its niche, the holy knight, is basically served by the pala…and trial by combat is simply not that different from smite, orders not that different from oaths – you get my drift. It is a well-crafted class, but one that lacks a unique niche or mechanics that set it sufficiently apart in the holy knight-routine. It’s not bad, but unless you really wanted a knight with orders, it’s somewhat superfluous and lacks the strong leitmotif its name (or the superb luminary hybrid class by the same author) promise.
That being said, both feats and alternate rules make up for this once again by helping multiclassing and sporting some gems. How to rate this, then? This book shows a deliberate, precise capability of operating with rules and should provide no significant problems at any table. The craftsmanship, in short, is excellent. And there similarly is artistry in this book – but whether it’s the cool penance-idea or the holy water bombs, I frankly wished some aspects had been developed more in these evocative niches. The book feels a bit like it is playing it safe and does not sport this one component that makes you go ballistic. However, as a whole, it does feature a really impressive array of multi-class-themed engine-tweaks and modifications that add some serious versatility to clerics and their playstyles, often genius in their simplicity. Still, the pillar does drag this a bit down for me, which is why I will settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this nice class expansion here on OBS!