Like many old-schoolers, I've never been completely comfortable with the cleric. My discomfort isn't severe enough to prompt me to remove it completely. It does, however, cause me to want to redesign it.
Clerics and the World Around them
According to my vision of things, clerics are not priests. They may or may not be vested with eccliastical authority, but they are not clergy. Clerics in my worlds fight for a belief and/or cause. They possess some of the power of a paladin, while losing some of their former ability. The player is free to determine the path his cleric follows. No matter what path it is, higher powers imbue the cleric with a portion of their power, to better enable the cleric to “take the fight to the enemy”. Clerics may be implacable witch hunters, vampire hunters, demonologists, holy crusaders rooting out heresy, or someone for whom the belief in Law and Justice is central to his life. Not all clerics are Lawful, however. There are Chaotic clerics who devote themselves to spreading discord, thwarting justice, and underming Law.
Clerics do not begin casting spells until they reach second level. It is also at second level that they must select an alignmennt, thus cementing their commitment to their cause. Clerics receive no class benefits, including the ability to cast spells, until they commit to an alignment. The player should also have the character's beliefs drafted by this time.
Clerics no longer have the ability to Turn Undead. They gain the following benefits:
- Clerics may use any one-handed weapons. They may wear any armor and use any shield.
- They may use magical versions of the above, as well as items designated for clerics and any class.
- Detect Evil/Good within 60', as the spell, when concentrating*
- Radiate Protection from Evil/Good (as the spell) in a 10' radius at all times*
- Receive a +2 bonus to saving throws vs Law/Chaos*
- Repel Evil: Beginning at 4th level the cleric may repel a number of creatures whose total HD do not exceed his own. Repelled creatures are forced to flee the cleric's presence as quickly as possible and will continue in this fashion for a number of turns equal to the cleric's level.
*These are not freely selectable, but only apply to the polarity opposite the cleric, i.e. a Lawful cleric radiates Protection from Evil only.
Cleric Level Progression (AEC pg 13) remains unchanged.
Clerics and Spellcasting
The biggest change is that cleriics no longer have unlimited access to every spell level they are able to cast. Now, clerics carry with them a form of spellbook, called a Litany. It typically takes the form of a scroll or other parchment. When unrolled it acts as a holy symbol. A cleric's litanies contain all the prayers he has access to. Clerics are no longer required to memorize spells ahead of time. They may cast any spell they have access to at any time. The cleric may do this a number of times equal to the number of spells per day given on the Cleric Spell Progression Table (AEC pg 14).
Cleric Access to Prayers
Clerics have access to a limited number of prayers. This is determined by adding the total number of spells the cleric may cast from the Cleric Spell Progression Table (AEC pg 14) to the Cleric's Wisdom bonus (if any). Thus, a 5th level cleric (WIS 16, +2 bonus) would have access to five 1st level (3+2) and three 2nd level (1+2) spells. When that character reaches 6th level, he will gain access to three 3rd level spells (1+2).
The exact spells a cleric has access to are determined by the player. They are chosen from the cleric spell lists, and once chosen they are pemanent. When a character advances to a level that grants the ability to cast the next-higher spell level, the player records the desired spells on the character sheet. These spells comprise what is known as his Access List. However, if the character gains an additional slot for a spell level he can already cast, he does not add an additional spell to his access list. These additional slots must be filled through play. They may possibly be given by some organization the cleric is afilliated with, they may be found adventuring, or perhaps granted as a reward.
When selecting spells the player is strongly encouraged to do so with the theme of the character in mind.
As stated above, cleric characters record the prayers they know on scrolls known as Litanies. Each spell-level must have its own litany scroll. Once a cleric has exhausted his allotment of spells for a particular level, he may not use anymore of that level until he has rested at least six hours and spent time meditating and praying over the appropriate litany. Approximately 15 minutes per spell level (the number of spells is irrelevant) will suffice.