Legendary Classes: Sacerdote
This installment of the Legendary Classes-series clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page blank, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 31.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
The sacredote base class presented herein gets d6 HD, 2+Int skills, proficiency with dagger, club, hanbo, quarterstaff and no armors – sacerdotes in armor risk arcane spell failure for divine spells when wearing armor/using shields. The class gets 1/2 BAB-progression and good Will-saves. A sacerdote casts prepared divine spells governed by Wisdom as casting attribute from the cleric’s spell-list. He may not cast spells from opposed alignments, as usual – however, here’s the catch: They have a second spell-list, based on domains: Sacerdotes add 5 domains together from their patron deity/deities and generate a domain spell-list: They gain as many spells from these domains as from regular spellcasting. And no, thankfully, they don’t get domain powers from all of the domains. PrC-wise, sacerdotes only benefit from spellcasting progression that extends to all spellcasting, not from those that exclusively apply to divine spellcasting. At 3rd level and every 4th level beyond, the sacerdote receives a bonus feat chosen from metamagic feats, item creation feats and wrath feats – more on those later.
As the more theoretical divine caster, a sacerdote receives Intelligence modifier in addition to the usual attribute used on attack rolls with spells or divine wrath rays, not extending this benefit to e.g. spell-supported attacks like attacking with a magic weapon. Additionally, they may treat spells with a range of touch as though they had a range of 5ft. times class level, using Dex-mod to calculate attack bonus in conjunction with Int for such touch attacks. On misses, the charge cannot be held, just fyi. And yes, the class is smart enough to restrict this ability exclusively to spells granted from the sacerdote class.
Now I mentioned divine wrath – this would be an SP-signature ability of the class: As a standard action that provokes AoOs, sacerdotes may sacrifice a spell f level one or higher and unleashes a burst of divine energy that deals untyped damage (and doesn’t damage constructs and objects) equal to 1d6 per spell level sacrificed, +1d6 at 2nd level and every even level thereafter. (At 4th level, divine wrath would hence deal spell level times d6 + 2d6 damage.) This is treated as a spell equal to the level of the sacrificed spell for purposes of counterspelling. Divine wrath can be manifested as either a 20-ft.-cone burst with a Will save DC of 10 + spell level sacrificed + Int-mod for half damage. The ranged touch attack ray has a range of medium (100 ft + 10 ft. per level) and offers no save, but targets, obviously only one creature. This, like spellcasting, requires the divine focus and it counts as channel energy for purposes of haunts, contingencies etc. – nice catch there.
Starting at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the sacerdote gets a manifestation, which allows the sacerdote to modify the divine wrath to generate lines, forked rays, cylinders, etc. and evena snake line. The class also sports a bunch of favored class options that cover not only base races, but also Porphyran races like the dragonblooded or exotic choices like the samsaran. We also get a CR 10 sample furnace elf sacerdote.
Archetype-wise, the class also receives some options, first of which would be the augur: These guys have a similar chassis as the sacerdote, but get a modified spell-list, the exclusive augury domain and no divine wrath – instead, they may at long range, as an immediate action, twist fate, allowing the augur to expend spells to add their level (capping at Int-bonus) to the result of a check, even after the results are made known. Starting at 8h level, augurs may instead also penalize creatures. They gain bonus feats at 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter. They may also recast divinations yielding unfavorable results, even when that would usually be prohibited. At 12th level, he can 1/day use good omen sans it being an action (2/day at 20th level) and level 16, groups of people requiring concerted effort can benefit from good omens, for as long as the checks happen in the same round. The sample augur provided is an augur at CR 6.
The pdf also provides a druidic version of the sacerdote: These guys get light armor and a limited domain selection, but they do modify the spell list with a list of at least 2 spells per level that can be spontaneously cast. They add Int-mod to natural attacks and may also spontaneously convert spells into summon nature’s ally. Wild empathy is of course also part of the deal. The passive abilities like resist nature’s lure, venom immunity, timeless body etc. can be found as well. The sample character provided is an atheling at CR 4.
After this one, we also get an elemental-themed sacerdote – with elemental domains, obviously. Instead of the regular divine wrath, these guys can channel energies as blasts and the elemental wrath can be resisted via Ref-saves saves. These guys gain Placate Outsiders at 2nd level. Now the interesting thing from a design perspective: The fewer energy types you have access to, the more scaling resistance you gain to the energy associated with your domains – this value also determines the amount of energy resistance the elemental wrath can bypass. Interesting set-up. The sample character would be a CR 6 half-cyclops.
The invoker would be the summoning specialist herein – with quicker summons, and spontaneous conversion into summoning spells, with available creatures being determined by the domains chosen. Slightly problematic – for summons of usually a casting duration of 1 round, the class should specify the actions available for the summoned creature in the round they are conjured forth. Also interesting – the creature type determined by the domains can also be targeted with an AoE charm/dominate-like effect…but one tied to your HD. The sample character provided clocks in at CR 6.
The healing sacerdote receives a positive energy-based healing variant of divine wrath, aptly called divine weal: This can take two forms, a 40 ft.-cone or the medium range ray that only affects a single target, but always cures the maximum amount. The ability heals 1d6 per spell level converted, +1d6 at 4th level, with every 4 levels thereafter increasing that amount by +1d6. Non-damaging wrath feats may be used in conjunction with this ability. Unsurprisingly, this variant needs to take the Healing domain. They also get +Int-mod to CL-checks to remove a harmful effect or condition with magic such as break enchantment et al. and alsoincreases touch spell range to 5 ft. times Int-mod, using Dex-mod to calculate atk. At 2nd level, these guys may channel mercy and basically add mercy-like condition-removers, with up to 5 conditions removed in one go. 5th level allows for either the application of aforementioned mercies or to gain treat rolled 1s as 6s when using divine weal. Healing sacerdotes get a manifestation at 9th, 13th and 17th level, and it affects divine weal instead of divine wrath, obviously. The sample character clocks in at CR 10.
Proselytizers are basically a Cha-based variant of the standard sacerdote that is locked into the Community domain. At 3rd level, the class gets Selective Wrath as a bonus feat, but at 5th level and every 2 levels thereafter, he may exclude an additional creature from the effects of divine wrath. At 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, proselytizers may choose bonus feats (metamagic, item creation, wrath) instead of manifestations. At 7th level, allies excluded from selective wrath gain a new Will-save versus ongoing effects that allow a saving throw, possibly shaking the effect off. Here, the ability is probably a bit wonky – I’m pretty sure this is supposed to only apply to Will-save based effects, but as written, it allows people to shake off ongoing Ref- and Fort-based effects, which would be odd indeed…and render the level 11 ability, which does that for Fort- and Ref-saves obsolete. At 15th level, excluded allies also gain 1 temporary hit point per die of damage of divine wrath. 19th level is brutal: Allies affected by the wrath may take a move or standard action as an immediate action. The sample character is a CR 4 geralite.
The spirit sacerdote is the first of these variants/archetypes that doesn’t have its own class table (so yes, the above are pretty complex modifications of the class) and also is governed by Cha and pretty unique: They can change domains by negotiating with creatures, spirits, even the dead, a massive table providing monster types and correlating them to domains – a lot of roleplaying potential here! The sample character clocks in at CR 8.
The theurgist as no access to domains…but can learn ALL domain spells, even opposing alignment domains…but only the spells. Theurgists cast arcane spells. The arcane wrath of the theurgist requires no focus, which is a bit problematic – no disarm or similar tricks will help here. These guys have a cleric spellbook and a domain spellbook. Each level, the theurgist gets +2 cleric spells and 2 new domain spells for free and may learn spells like a wizard. The sample character clocks in at CR 8.
The pdf closes with over 20 feats, most of which belong to the [wrath]-category – these include DC-increases for divine wrath, multiple feats that allow you to placate other types of creatures (like animals, aberrations…you get the idea), gain an extra manifestation…etc. Heightening divine wrath’s DC by using it as a full-round action instead is VERY powerful and something I’d nerf. Similarly, there’s a save or suck (you won’t save) feat that deals no damage to constructs…but dazes them for damage die rounds…considering the crappy Will-saves of constructs a powerful lock-down. Speaking of OP: There is a feat that lets you heal via divine wrath…which means you’ll be better at healing raw HP than the Healing archetype (who gets half the bonus die scaling that the damaging version gets). Granted, you can’t take away those negative conditions…but still.
Editing and formatting are very good – while not always internally consistent (third vs. 3rd), the book, as a whole, is well-crafted, with precise rules-language and only a precious few hiccups. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly two-column standard with some niece pieces of full color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Carl Cramér’s Sacerdotes (with additional design by Julian Neale and Mark Gedak) are interesting in that they leave me pretty torn. On the one hand, I actually really enjoy this take on the armor-less divine caster/holy man. The complex domain-tricks and variants are pretty awesome, with divine wrath’s power being dependant on spells making for an interesting resource-management game. The fragility of the class is pretty important, and, while it looks brutal on paper, in game, the sacerdote and its variants mean one thing: KILL THEM FIRST. More so than clerics and druids, games with sacerdotes should be aware of the fact that these guys can dish out tons of damage…and heal even more in the case of the healer. Similarly, the invoker can pretty much go all Master Summoner on the table and drown foes in summoned creatures. That is, foes should know in-game to attack these guys like crazy – the fact that they can extend touch spells to range, limited though that may be, also means that they can provide healing more reliably sans getting into danger. When they do end up adjacent to any halfway decent attacker, though, they fold like wet tissues.
In playtest, these characters did yield a surprising result: When they worked, they owned the table – a healing sacerdote, for example, can maintain a front-line of melee barbarians in a manner most fearsome and lets a group withstand tremendous amounts of punishment…but at the same time, they could be squashed very easily. I managed to one-hit the guy. MAD is also used in a rather smart manner to reign these guys in.
The base sacerdote’s restrictions are interesting and while I still prefer Interjection Games’ ethermagic for warlock-y gaming, for divine blasters, these guys are interesting – though I have to warn against one component, particularly in mid-to high level gaming: Divine wrath is UNTYPED and not subject to SR. There is literally no way to reliably guard against this – even negative energy has a few creatures that are immune/resist it…so I’d very much recommend making this a classic damage type. Similarly, if you had issues with summon-spams in the past, the invoker will exacerbate the issue of creature-spamming. Still, overall, that makes for options that may not be perfect…but neither are they automatically problematic. Being able to learn ALL DOMAINS and the theurgist’s arcane wrath feel a bit ill-conceived – the more domains you allow, the worse it gets. The means to extend touch spells to range should imho be restricted to cure/inflict-spells – on its own, that would already be VERY strong; with all the others…well…ouch.
Still, as a whole, I like he frame, if not all the precise details.
Where things get rather wonky would be the feats: The increased DC is VERY strong; Being able to potentially outheal the healing variant of the class for one measly feat is similarly baffling. On the other hand, the placate feats sport some cool ideas (a turn-like one for undead, for example), but vary in efficiency. The fact that you can get significant control over divine wrath AND increase the DC significantly means that you’ll consider the ability ultimately much more useful and versatile than channel energy. This pdf, in a nutshell, offers some generally well-crafted options in the upper power-echelons. It imho could have used a bit more streamlining and nerfing and has some bits that can become problematic.
In a nut-shell, the sacerdote has awesome blasting, many spells, (broken) powerful healing (broken if you take the feat…)…and still is about as durable as a wet paper towel. On one hand, this class is arguably OP and gets too much out of being a bad BAB-class – for the nerf, they get more spells, ranged healing (already insanely powerful on its own, even with short range) and then add the superb blasting to the fray. In my playtest, I could take sacerdotes down, sure – but I had to do so…fast.
On the other hand, the framework and system presented here is neat, fun and lends itself to easy modification. Still, I can’t just rate this on potential and have to rate it for what it presents, no matter how easily one could fix the hiccups and retune the balancing issues. As much as I like this book, I think it does overshoot the target significantly. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars – if you think you can fix the aforementioned balance-issues or have a high-powered game, round up; otherwise, round down. For the purpose of this platform, I will round up due to in dubio pro reo.