Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > The Fantasy Trip

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-24-2018, 11:19 AM   #1
ecz
 
ecz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Default priest and theologian

After we discussed about a number of things (some interesting, some less interesting) and assuming that Steve will decide for the best it's time to share our experience with the priest and theologian talents.


No doubt that Priest and Theologian were an half-attempt to bring the "theism" on TFT, or at least a way to introduce the deity dimension on the campaign. RAW obviously does not permit seriously to follow that kind of career and I think no PC spends 5 IQ points for ... nothing, but the two talents listed offer to the imaginative GM an excellent starting point.

here's how I handled them.

I created four basic Faithes (one for Humans, one for Dwarves, one for Orcs and goblinoids, one for Elfs and Halfings) each with its own list of holy days, commandments and rules that must be strictly followed (for example Dwarf clerics can never allow the destruction of underearth passages and tunnels, Human clerics cannot begin a fight and so on)...

Each Faith has 20 spells ( some spells are common to more Faiths ) all coming in two version: the Priest version (light) and the Theologian version (powerful).

Each cleric can holds in memory up to five different spells taken from his deity list that can be used once, or less than five spells that can be used up to five times in total. If the cleric has only the Priest Talent, he uses the light version, if he has the Theologian talent, he can use the powerful version.

After each use the spell is "forgotten" and the cleric has consumed one of his five "shots". The cleric can re-charge his memory only through prayers in a dedicated temple or shrine. Each full day of prayer allow to (re) memorize one spell of the spell list, or a second, third, fourth , fifth repeat of it, the cleric decides. After the required prayers he has his memory fully again until the next spell use.

clerical spells are rolled 3/IQ and does not cost ST. The cleric must be disengaged and can move up to one hex and still cast the spell. A successfull roll cancels the spell (or a repeat of it) until it is re-charged. A failed IQ roll does not cancel the spell, but for the next 24 hours the cleric cannot try again THAT spell (other spells still in memory are ok).

Clerics can also ask for divine intervention in desperate situations. Priests obtains the deity help rolling 3,4 on 3 dice. Theologian obtains the help rolling 3,4,5. One attempt per "situation" is allowed and no adverse effect happens if he fails the roll unless he rolls a 18, that means the deity is very upset...

also Priests have +1 reaction, while Theologians have +2 reaction in most cases. They have free access on any temple of their faith, where they can easily find a job as local Priest and live for free. Each full week in prayer and meditation is worth 2 exp points, each successfull spell in an emergency situation is worth 10 exp points. During holy days the clerics have special advantages (different bonuses per each religion).

The spell lists (different for each faith, but with several spells in common) contain all the divine incantations you can expect: heal wounds, summon angel, mystic flight, destroy undead and so on...

with these simple rules (really just one page plus the spells list ) almost any group of PCs had a cleric in it, something totally unthinkable with the simple talents of ITL.

and how did you use the Priest/Theologian talents in your games?
__________________
VASLeague Tournament Director
www.vasleague.org

Last edited by ecz; 02-24-2018 at 11:25 AM.
ecz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2018, 01:21 PM   #2
JLV
 
JLV's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Default Re: priest and theologian

I've been struggling with this for quite a few years now.

First, let me say that I wholeheartedly agree that the Priest/Theologian talents in the TFT RAW are a waste of time as far as the game (and the gamers I've had) go -- not one has ever chosen to "waste" the slots to learn these talents; practically anything else was deemed more critical.

Second, as written, the talents offer no real incentive to be used. Who cares if you can win a theological debate when the entire content of the book basically fails to mention religion as a factor in anything? Now if the world the game was set in placed a high value on religion and religious personnel, it would be a completely different situation; or if the GM makes such a world, it would.

It seems to me that in order to make priests/theologians useful, there has to be some sort of incentive to use them. That incentive could be purely political (and thus, a by-product of the GM's world setting) which is what the RAW seem to be pointing at right now. Or, the incentive could be based on some sort of tangible benefit (which is what most players seem to expect, whether because of D&D or because that's what most fantasy fiction suggests).

A tangible benefit would be precisely the kind of thing that ecz is outlining above. But how does it really WORK? (This is where I've been struggling.)

It's easy enough to do what ecz has done (and quite thoroughly done, I might add), but my problem becomes that it's just a "class" of wizardry at that point, with some strong limitations on what it can and cannot do.

I wanted theological "magic" to be different from wizardry, both in nature and in execution. To that end I experimented with what the priest's source of power would be (and in passing, I'll note that Rick Smith apparently went down a slightly similar path, since he mentioned something called "PIETY" as an additional attribute in one of his comments elsewhere).

In my case, I wanted to NOT create additional attributes (that's been a line I've tried to adhere to throughout my TFT experience); but still wanted to create a method whereby priests could gain "magical" (actually divine) powers. To that end, I allowed them to use magic like a Wizard did, but they had to regain the fatigue they expended by prayer and meditation, rather than "rest." That's somewhat satisfying, but it still places them at a distinct disadvantage with regard to the other players since if they use any of their spells, they can't recover until they can find a place to pray and meditate for quite some time. Which DOESN'T count as rest, which they ALSO need! Clerics need to be a viable alternative to the other two types of characters (Wizards and Fighters), not a poor second choice.

Another problem is what spells should they be allowed to use? Certain spells would seem contra-indicated for "good" guys, while the opposite set of spells would be contra-indicated for "bad" guys. How do you delineate those differences? Clearly healing spells would be a good set for clerics of any kind to use, as should things like CURSE (or BLESS -- which really strikes me as a pair of spells that could be unified into one "BLESS/CURSE"). But many of the "clerical" spells from D&D have no analogue in TFT. Things like purify food, water, or air, blight same, improving morale, etc., simply don't exist in TFT.

So what's the solution? I'm not happy with ANYTHING I've tried yet; but I think there are some principles I'd like to see used in this area. They are:

1) Clerical "magic" should be different from Wizardry, and vice versa.

2) Clerics should derive their power via their God/Gods, rather than have it automatically present as Wizards do. This might require things such as taking time out daily to pray or meditate, or perhaps make sacrifices to their God/Gods, or it might require them to physically visit a site of worship (church, shrine, circle of standing stones, holy tree, whatever), or some combination of the them, but regardless, it should be based on something other than just sitting around. The question becomes; what is the mechanism, and how is it tracked? Ideally, to match well with TFT, it should be tied into one of the attributes, but how do you do that?

Just spitballing here, but perhaps their magical capability (that is, how much "ST" they can expend on spells) should be tied to their IQ instead of ST. Of course that would also work for Wizards, in my opinion -- call it Mana for Wizards, and Favor for Priests, and simply have them recharge differently. Wizards have to totally relax to allow the Mana to regenerate, while Priests have to meditate to gain back Favor; both of which render the individual utterly vulnerable, meaning the fighters have to protect them while this goes on -- NO one gets any "Rest" in the definition of the rules during this process... This would also have the advantage of no longer requiring magic using characters to bulk up on ST in order to be useful -- their IQs not only indicate their general level of competence in terms of what spells they can know, but also indicates their overall "power" in terms of casting them. Which eliminates the Conan the Wizard conundrum (but I digress).

3) Clerical magic should be flexible enough to be used by both "good" and "bad" clerics for their desired purposes. So spells for the clerical crowd should (in my opinion) generally be "dual aspect" spells; such as BLESS/CURSE, PURIFY/BLIGHT FOOD, PURIFY/BLIGHT WATER, HEAL/INJURE, LIGHT/DARKNESS, and so on.

It also seems to me that clerics should find it hard to take direct action against others (bear with me a moment) based solely on "God-given" spells or abilities. It seems to me that even an evil God would want people around to worship it, and if everyone gets sacrificed to the evil God, that sort of defeats the purpose of it all (Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones excepted of course).

Now that's not to say that evil Gods don't enjoy death and destruction, but perhaps they can't give any kind of power (with the possible exception of something like HEAL/INJURE -- which clearly means you can use it to inflict damage as well as take it away, though you probably have to be touching the target to do either) that leads to direct death other than through some kind of sacrificial ritual or something. Priests should clearly, like other non-Wizards, be allowed to learn Wizardly spells like MAGIC FIST or whatever, if they so desire, and I suspect that an evil God would want them to do exactly that. But I think that clerical spells should be more or less indirect in their battlefield applications, if at all possible. For example, what happens if you cast PURIFY WATER on a slime? Or a person, for that matter? We're made up of around 60% water, and it's not "pure" in that sense; so if a cleric "purified" (or "blighted") the water in a human victim, what would the result be?

Turning back to "sacrifices," what would their effects be? Clearly, for an evil cleric, there ought to be some advantage to sacrificing a person; and pagan Gods seem to always be demanding a bull or a deer or something as a sacrifice, but for a good cleric, that would be anathema. Still, good clerics sacrifice all the time -- on a personal level -- by forswearing wealth or property, by fasting, by enduring extremes of cold and heat, flagellation, tending to the sick or performing some other kind of service, etc. How would all of that work in order to help the cleric gain power? Especially if the good cleric is an itinerant monk or priest (the kind of character that engages in adventure, most likely) and therefore not able to establish a medical clinic or something? What about going on pilgrimage? Does that do anything?

Sorry I don't have any really useful personal experiences to offer here -- at best, my experiences would be a catalogue of failure to make this work. But, I'm sure hoping other people have some thoughts on all of this!
JLV is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2018, 01:50 PM   #3
ak_aramis
 
ak_aramis's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Alsea, OR
Default Re: priest and theologian

Fundamentally, the reason I don't use either T&T nor TFT for longer campaigns is the lack of clerical magic.

Both I used for solo module play far more than group play.
ak_aramis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2018, 10:16 PM   #4
David Bofinger
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Sydney, Australia
Default Re: priest and theologian

In RAW TFT Priests and Theologian are basically mundane talents, most relevant to characters who don't go adventuring. Sure, it's rare for anyone to take them, but it's rare for anyone to take leatherworking. You could argue that IQ 9 and 4 points of talents is a lot to pay for being a Priest. Perhaps Priest shouldn't have Charisma as a prerequisite: yes, it's useful to have Charisma, but stories are full of priests who don't have it and it ought to be possible to play one of those characters.

I add Follower as a prerequisite for Priest, the knowledge needed to be an observant follower of a religion. Everyone gets their first religion free and extra religions are 1 each, like languages.

If you do want clerical magic there are probably lots of ways to implement it and I guess we need some equivalent of Space Gamer in which these expansions can appear.

D&D's inspiration for clerics was make spells out of the miracles performed in the bible. That's too Christian-centric for TFT.
David Bofinger is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2018, 11:53 PM   #5
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: priest and theologian

The characters who most often took Priest or Theologian in my campaign (and in theory quite a few NPCs did) were priests and high priests and theologians and scholars.

We were pretty happy to not have system-built-in religious powers spells except/unless a GM wanted to make a specific one for some specific god in a campaign, which in our major TFT Cidri campaigns I am not sure any of us ever did (though in some later GURPS campaigns we did). One nice thing about a system leaving it up to the GM is then players & PCs need to discover what religious powers exist, if any, and/or how they work.

There were a few priests PCs and NPCs in our groups. It just wasn't a "that makes them a spellcaster" thing, which we rather preferred. If there were priests with spells of some sort, we'd expect the GM to come up with those (or not) for specific religious orders, along with whatever in-setting cosmology made sense.
Skarg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2018, 04:44 PM   #6
ak_aramis
 
ak_aramis's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Alsea, OR
Default Re: priest and theologian

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Bofinger View Post
D&D's inspiration for clerics was make spells out of the miracles performed in the bible. That's too Christian-centric for TFT.
The range of clerical-type magics doesn't change all that much when you add Judaic (specifically Talmudic, for christian era, and some of the esoteric Jewish Apochrypha - EG: Book of Lilith, the Kabbalah, etc), Christian Apochrypha, Gnostic Christian Texts, Muslim (Quran and Hadith both include some miracles, some sects have additional texts - Sufi, Ahmadiyya), or Zoroastrian. Adding the Vedic gets the high power levels, and some of the spells appear to be Vedic in origin, and Vedic/Hindu titles are included in AD&D. Druidic magic is drawn from Celtic myth and Norse Sagas.

Right there we have a wide base to draw from, and cover 90% of religion-adherent people in the world.

Note that, due to probable commonality of origin (sufficient that it's generally accepted), the Judaic, Christian, Muslim, and Zoroastrian have a lot of common miracle stories. Anything in Genesis is common. Christianity, both Gnostic and Conciliar/Orthodox includes all but the Jewish Apochrypha, but Christian Tradition integrates parts of the book of Lilith. Gnostic Christian has a bunch of additional miracles. Muslims have most of the Christian texts paraphrased, and almost all of the non-apochrypha Jewish miracles, too. Zoroastrian includes most of the Jewish, and some additional.

The Vedic miracles are a slightly wider range, but largely of similar type to those of the Zoroastrian-Mosaic base.
The Buddhist and Taoist are again largely similar.

It's only when we get to the Celtic/Druidic and the Wotanic/Odinic that we get really novel stuff. Shapeshifting, Miraculous Travel, Faeries, and the like...
ak_aramis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-26-2018, 08:13 PM   #7
JLV
 
JLV's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Default Re: priest and theologian

I wonder if there's a simpler way to approach all of this. (With a Hat Tip to Charles G. over on the "Fourth Attribute" thread for sparking this idea...)

If Gods intervene in life via some form of indirect action, what if we DID introduce the concept of "luck points" (or "fate points," or whatever you want to call them) which players could expend to change a die roll, or survive an otherwise fatal incident or something like that?

Each player would have a limited pool of such points (very limited, ideally; maybe only two or three) which he or she could expend for special purposes. Once spent, they're gone forever. New luck points would be granted by the GM under some specific guidelines and as a result of divine favor of some kind or another.

You could think of them as a type of highly specific and highly indirect "magic of the Gods" that would allow you to briefly alter reality in very limited and specific ways (unlike a WISH, which has much wider utility -- and which could also be derived from divine influence; why should Demons have all the fun?).

Bad guys (only the real villains, of course) might have one or two to throw around too; depending on how this framed out once written up.

This would immediately remove the need to come up with all kinds of specific spells for clerics, and would simplify writing rules for divine influence and so on; instead of creating a complex system for deciding how clerical spells work and what not, you have one simple mechanism that can influence events without any overt "miracles" occurring. After all, that "miraculous" save could have simply been good luck, couldn't it? It would also have the advantage of "removing" the Gods a bit more from the immediate environment; you can appeal to them all day long, but they may or may not grant a luck point (and actually, such grants should be very rare), and either way they aren't standing around telling you which way to go -- which can spoil an RPG game faster than anything. Once you get Gods involved, what's left for the players to do?

Anybody have any thoughts on something like this?
JLV is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2018, 04:05 AM   #8
ecz
 
ecz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Default Re: priest and theologian

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLV View Post
I wonder if there's a simpler way to approach all of this. (With a Hat Tip to Charles G. over on the "Fourth Attribute" thread for sparking this idea...)

If Gods intervene in life via some form of indirect action, what if we DID introduce the concept of "luck points" (or "fate points," or whatever you want to call them) which players could expend to change a die roll, or survive an otherwise fatal incident or something like that?

Each player would have a limited pool of such points (very limited, ideally; maybe only two or three) which he or she could expend for special purposes. Once spent, they're gone forever. New luck points would be granted by the GM under some specific guidelines and as a result of divine favor of some kind or another.

You could think of them as a type of highly specific and highly indirect "magic of the Gods" that would allow you to briefly alter reality in very limited and specific ways (unlike a WISH, which has much wider utility -- and which could also be derived from divine influence; why should Demons have all the fun?).

Bad guys (only the real villains, of course) might have one or two to throw around too; depending on how this framed out once written up.

This would immediately remove the need to come up with all kinds of specific spells for clerics, and would simplify writing rules for divine influence and so on; instead of creating a complex system for deciding how clerical spells work and what not, you have one simple mechanism that can influence events without any overt "miracles" occurring. After all, that "miraculous" save could have simply been good luck, couldn't it? It would also have the advantage of "removing" the Gods a bit more from the immediate environment; you can appeal to them all day long, but they may or may not grant a luck point (and actually, such grants should be very rare), and either way they aren't standing around telling you which way to go -- which can spoil an RPG game faster than anything. Once you get Gods involved, what's left for the players to do?

Anybody have any thoughts on something like this?
this was my first approach with "Gods" in TFT. Works pretty well but we (the players and me as GM) discarded it and moved to a more complex system.

I try to list the points that made me turn toward the system I have depicted in the first post.

1) players want something that is NOT automatic ("will the divine spell work? who knows...") like a +/-1 or a wish or a "fate point" to cause/cancel an event.

2) Clerics already can pray for the "miracle" or the direct "divine intervention" with a 3,4,5 on three dice in desperate situations (only one roll is allowed per scene). Exactly like in RQ , at least in the RQ version many of us played at that time.

3) Players want something similar to the classical Clerics of RQ and D&D and yet different from TFT Wizardly Magic.

4) We spotted a good number of incantations not covered by sorcery and ideal for "divine magic".

Hence the idea to consider the two clerical talents as a key to gain the access to a set of spells "one use" (until re-charged) that must be cleverly used only when necessary and to use an IQ/ roll instead of the usual DX /roll.

We kept things simple however. In a few lines we listed for each "Cult" (four in total):

Holy days
Commandments (special prohibitions and duties)
spell list

Generic rules valid for all Cults explained how to memorize a spell (through prayers and meditation in a dedicated temple or shrine) and how cast them (as a wizard spell, but rolling 3D/IQ at no ST cost).

Spells were about 40 in total being most in common to more cults.
__________________
VASLeague Tournament Director
www.vasleague.org
ecz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2018, 04:21 AM   #9
ecz
 
ecz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Default Re: priest and theologian

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLV View Post
why should Demons have all the fun?
ah ah
in fact the first Priest spell we thought was "Summon Angel" ("Summon Archangel" for Thelogian).

others were about healing, curses, beneditions, movement, flight, teleportation of objects, excavations, divine-missiles, divine "Staff" , automatic feeding without nutrition, truthtrance, short- range divinations, terror and so on...

We found this "class" perfect also for NPCs.
__________________
VASLeague Tournament Director
www.vasleague.org
ecz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2018, 04:04 PM   #10
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: priest and theologian

I always figured that the attractiveness of the priest/theologian talents depended almost entirely on the game world. In a setting where priests are accorded great wealth and status, those talents might be very attractive even if they imparted no magical powers. The reverse is true as well. By default, though, there's no real reason for player characters to take those talents. They are essentially highly rigorous mundane talents as David noted.

Like most long time TFT'ers, I played around with clerical magic systems. The problem is that I always wound up simulating the D&D concept of clerics. Not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely derivative.

Anyhow, while you can spruce up priest/theologian talents, you really need some conception of what the religions are and how they interact with rulers, followers, non-followers, etc. In a theocracy where priests have no special magical powers, Theologian might well be better described as "Administration" or "Bureacracy" or even "Law".

I think an easy, low footprint, tweak for priest/theologian is to give them modest positive effects on followers. For instance:

A +1 on initiative ("Brother Parvis brings God to our side").

Allow a very minor healing power (like say, a master physicker's ability to heal 1 point of damage without any tools), which could be magic or just a strong placebo effect.

Allow a prayer to grant a +1 on a particular task roll "O Lord, please grant Anselm the strength to open this barred door that he might carry out thy will..." I'd limit this to a few uses per day.

Grant a +1 reaction with any coreligionists (or anyone if the faith is particularly well respected).

Allow priests an advantage fast-talking gullible followers ("Do witches burn? What also burns...what also floats"), etc.

Provide priests with a monthly stipend, which represents donations and support.

Allow a more significant bonus (say +2) when doing something that requires willpower, as long as the priest is present to pray/encourage the figure/display the holy symbol, etc.

Etc.

The key to these "powers" is that they may be magical, or they may just be manifestations of the placebo effect. And they may be limited by the deity, or just sensibly limited by the priest (or his religious doctrine) so as to retain their novelty.
tbeard1999 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:45 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.