July 12, 2017

Divine Domain: War (Variant)

Divine Domain
Comments from the Knuckle: I don't know about everyone else, but the War Domain has always felt lackluster to me. Mechanically and mathematically, I'm sure it's sound, but thematically it just never felt like the priest who stands on the front lines with the fighter and the barbarian; for that role, I look to the Tempest Domain. 
     This rewrite of the War Domain is something I've been mulling over for quite some time, but I wasn't sure how to do it until recently. I knew for a fact that I was going to upgrade their capstone, because how lame is resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage after you've invested 17 levels of your adventuring career into serving a god of war? I also wanted to make the abilities flow together a little more. 
     The core War Domain gets War Priest at 1st level, and don't get me wrong, this is a cool ability, but it never gets better. And it feels like it should, over time. Guided Strike seems wasted since you only have the one attack and you don't get Sneak Attack or Divine Smite - who cares if you hit, one hit from a War Cleric is not going to change the course of the fight. Yes, you get the upgrade to use it on your allies at 6th level, but even so: you have to survive 4 more levels to apply it to the people who could really use it when they need it.
     And on top of that: personally, I don't like handing out +x's via class features, so this one went right out in my rewrite, and was replaced by Fury of Battle, which builds on War Priest, as I mentioned earlier. When Guided Strike went, I knew I had to scrap the 6th level feature as well, so I worked with the Finger and one of the DMs from my home games to come up with a feature that encourages you to be on the front lines. No puss-out Archer Clerics here, thanks!
     I'm eagerly awaiting your thoughts, feedback, and general criticism. Do you feel like the War Domain is lackluster? Which Domain would you change if you were on the writing team for 5e?

War Domain (Variant)

In every conflict there have been priests who stand on the front lines alongside their lay brethren. They display courage and valor just as much as the next man, and none can doubt their ability to contribute to the fight. War Clerics are often figures that soldiers will turn to for guidance on the tumultuous field of the fray. Offering up their prayers to their deity, begging for protection, they bless their brothers in arms and prepare for the onslaught of the enemy. War deities can include champions of honor and valor (such as Athena or Odin) or gods of senseless violence (such as Ares and Surtur). Still others champion not the virtues of war, but the warriors themselves (such as Bast, Nike, and Tyr).

War Domain Spells
Cleric Level Spells
1st divine favor, shield of faith
3rd magic weapon, spiritual weapon
5th crusader's mantle, haste
7th freedom of movement, stoneskin
9th flamestrike, hold monster

Bonus Proficiencies
At 1st level, you gain proficiency with martial weapons and heavy armor.

War Priest
From 1st level, your god delivers bolts of inspiration to you while you are engaged in battle. When you use the Attack action, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action.
     You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Channel Divinity: Prayer of the Warrior
Starting at 2nd level, you can expend a use of your Channel Divinity feature to spend 1 minute praying to your god, beseeching them to bless your weapon in battle. At the end of your prayers, you gain the benefits of one of the following fighting styles. You retain this fighting style until you complete a long rest.
  • Archery. You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons.
  • Dueling. When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.
  • Great Weapon Fighting. When you roll a 1 or a 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new result, even if the new result is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting. When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

Sacramental Retribution
Starting at 6th level, when an ally within 5 feet of you is attacked by a hostile creature that you can see, you can use your reaction to make a single weapon attack against that creature.

Divine Strike
At 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with divine energy. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 of the type dealt by the weapon to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.

Avatar of War
Starting at 17th level, you gain resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

- - -

Changelog: 7/12/17: Holy Shield was replaced with Ardent Assault.
Fury of Battle was replaced with Prayer of the Warrior.
Ardent Assault was replaced with Extra Attack.
Extra Attack was replaced with Sacramental Retribution.

33 comments:

  1. need a level for the channel divinity

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    1. Oops, my bad. It's supposed to be 2nd level.

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    2. If you want to encourage front line combatants I would also get rid of the option for archery in the Channel. Just to put in the thought that this is a front line class only

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  2. For the war god flavor, I am not a fan of holy shield. Don't get me wrong, holy shield is a really cool ability and would fit really well with a cleric with a different focus, but for me, a war god doesn't care about how much damage you or your allies take, but rather how much damage you can dish out.

    To me, to keep with the reaction theme, I would go for something like; "When a creature within 30 feet of you succeeds on an attack roll, you can use your reaction to cause all the dice rolls to do the maximum damage." or maybe "when a creature with 30 feet of you succeeds on an attack roll, you cause the attack to count as a critical attack doing double the dice damage, ignoring features that further increase critical damage like the barbarian brutal critical."

    Mechanically, a little more damage is not nearly as good as hitting more often and this would be considered inferior to war gods blessing, but I'll be damned if max damage doesn't feel really nice.

    if you wanted to make the level 2 channel divinity more in line with the level 6 ability, and it would make sense for them to be similar, you could have the level 2 ability allow the cleric to decide that the attack deals full damage (with the caveat that it has to be from an attack with an attack roll), and have it limited in use up to the clerics wis mod. The nice thing about this is that it would synergize well with the level 8 divine strike ability.

    I fully agree with the name change from avatar of battle to avatar of war...why settle for battle when you can go full war?

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    1. To be honest, I wasn't fully satisfied with the Holy Shield ability for this domain either. Maybe for a redux of the (disappointing) Protection Domain. I like the idea of the 6th level ability allowing allies to maximize the damage on their attack rolls. I think I'll steal that :D

      Personally, I think I'd keep the 2nd level CD just as it is, because I wanted the War Cleric to be able to stand next to the fighter and (mostly) keep up in Weapon DPR, in exchange for a rest resource.

      And yeah, I'm kinda surprised that "Avatar of War" wasn't the name of the core version of the War Cleric ability. Like, it's not the "Battle Domain" :P

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    2. As a writer, I have to defend WotC here: using the same word again and again when there are perfectly good synonyms available is bad practice. Besides, 'Avatar of Battle' makes sense as an ability, because battles are angry and violent, while wars are more about planning and strategy.

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    3. I get the decision from a writer's perspective (yeah, seeing the same word over, and over is boring), but as a name "Avatar of Battle" never appealed to me. Also, the PHB version I find mind-numbingly underpowered after 17 levels :P

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  3. Welp, you just ensured I will never again look at the PHB War Domain. This one covers the concept much better. My players are gonna love this. ^_^

    Also, if I had to rewrite a domain: I would rewrite the Nature Domain, making it's Channel Divinity the Wild Shape ability of the druid. I would then totally eliminate the Druid and put psionics in the core book in the druid's place. I might also take a pass at rewriting the Death Domain, make it more of a Dread Necromancer-style character.

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    1. I just wanna know why the Death Domain isn't in the PHB. I mean, the Necromance Wizard is, and that's more evil than the Death Domain. I mean, come on, it's a cool option that's no more or less powerful than the PHB options, why not put it in there?

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    2. I second the request for a nature domain rewrite. The nature domain in the PHB is so weak as to be worthless.

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    3. Hmmmmm...I might tackle that in the future.

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  4. "No puss-out Archer Clerics here" XD

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    1. Amen. Also, thanks for your feedback in getting this together 😁

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    2. I should write "Divine Domain: The Hunt" for those Clerics who want to sit in the back like a buncha cowards.

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  5. Still am not fond of the 17th level ability, I know it's powerful but still a little boring, all you do is take hits for no reason. A barbarian can do it and better (especially a bear barbarian).
    Would have loved to see an on use ability like a mega buff where you transform into a giant stone avatar of war for a minute and wreck the whole world

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    1. Not every part of the meal can be spectacular. If the appetizer and the entree are amazing, the dessert can't be amazing, too. That's how things get to be too much. If you look at it from the perspective of an optimization handbook, where sky blue is great and a gold colored rating is the greatest, you can't create something where everything gets a gold rating, because then it'd be the only thing worth playing.

      Yes, a Barbarian can take damage better, but that's also purely their job. They get d12 hit dice, Rage with Resistance, etc. But I think you're forgetting what a Cleric gets in exchange: Full spellcasting.

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  6. Ardent assault and divine strike feel a bit too powerful in my opinion. When 'fury of battle' is up (and it will be during most combats), divine strike after level 14 will allow you to have the same flat damage as the Paladin, though of a weaker damage type, and I personally believe that's too much for a full caster. Paladin's can do more damage when they smite, but that requires them to expend a resource. I'd personally drop it down to d6's.

    Ardent assault is less problematic, as it aids allies, but it could end fights pretty quickly if combined with someone with dice-based burst damage (Paladin, a warlock with the eldritch smite invocation from UA).

    These are just my opinions, of course, which are probably not more informed than yours.

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    1. To Divine Strike: this is straight outta the PHB. Half the Clerics have it. Dropping it to a d6 breaks the Cleric mold.

      Ardent Assault could very well be too strong, I'm thinking about a fix, and I haven't come to any serious conclusions yet.

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    2. I've seen the math on abilities like this, and mechanically, adding a little extra damage doesn't do nearly as much as you think. Something like this that maximizes damage, and we'll do with a d8 die as an average, would average out to only 4 extra damage per dice. It seems overpowered, but is surprisingly not nearly as much as you would think.

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  7. I think this domain variant removes more than it adds. What you get is essentially the ability to attack as a bonus action fairly consistently and the ability to maximize some of your friends dmg adding roughly 5 dmg a few times a day. What you lose is essentially all ranged combat and heavy weapons really restricting you to versatile weapons as your best options and the ability to ensure an attack hits adding roughly 15 dmg a few times a day. There are two problems war cleric was really good at heavy weapon master and sharpshooter allowing them to be competitive and now they have no bonuses to either option. Further their are lots of ways to gain an attack as a bonus action consistently it that's what your after (Pam crossbow expert) but the war clerics other abilities made it unique. Other than the improvement to the level 17 feature I just can't see any reason to take this variant

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    1. I didn't remove the ability to participate in ranged combat. Nowhere in the text is that stated, I highly encourage melee builds with the features, but ranged weapons are still possible (and in some situations optimal) choices.

      My problem with the "it makes them competitive GWM/SS users: So does Bless. And GS was only 1/rest until 5th. I don't see how that makes them particularly better at it.

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    3. *nowhere in the text of the subclass. I did make a flip remark in my Comments, but I didn't actually remove their ability to use ranged weapons. And the 6th level ability even works at range, provides you're standing next to another ranged character.

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  8. Hmm. This is interesting. I really like the capstone improvement, it feels much better this way.

    I don't like fury of battle. War priest gives 4-5 attacks as a bonus action, and this would usually be enough to last for a whole fight (especially when you also cast spells). It's nice if you go through multiple fights in a day, but even then it doesn't seem great. I'd prefer something that gives you a bonus when using war priest- maybe being able to imitate a maneuver (without the extra damage)?

    Ardent assault seems very powerful with smite, sneak attack and critical hits. The math on a rogue shows that it's between ~10 damage at 6th level and ~20 damage at 15th. It seems on the strong side, but not OP.

    Overall, I was okay with the original war cleric, but this seems better and more thematic in the sense that it pushes you to the front.

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  9. War Priest's attacks are limited to a long rest reset. That's my whole thought process behind Fury of Battle. Maybe giving them Extra Attack at 6th level, and change their Channel Divinity to something else?

    Also, after everyone's comments I think i might drop Ardent Assault, or change it drastically.

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    1. You could change Ardent Assault to Channel Divinity: Ardent Assault so it has all the limitations of channel divinity

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    2. That's honestly not a bad idea, but I think I'm going to change what Ardent Assault does.

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  10. In my opinion, it's kind of unsatisfying to not have anything war-like to do with my Channel Divinity once I've picked my fighting style for the day. While technically I can spend more than one Channel Divinity to gain multiple fighting styles at once, I'm rarely going to need more than one, whereas the vanilla ability to give myself or an ally at +10 to attack is going to be usable in pretty much any fight, which helps thematically and mechanically.

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  11. Honestly, Trickery and Tempest and Nature Domain.

    Trickery is weak and very specific, Tempest essentially forces you to use Call Lightning to access class features like warlock does with Eldritch Blast, and Nature is also weak.

    The capstone is still the same(?) I thought you didn't like it.

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    1. The capstone for the original was resistance to nonmagical B/P/S - the capstone for this one is all B/P/S.

      I have a couple of tweaks for Trickery that make it much more playable! :D

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  12. maybe 6th level should just be extra attack. Bladesinger, Valor Bards etc also get them at level 6, so its nothing unheard of and fits the theme of getting more attacks..

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