The People behind the Dragon Age game I’m currently in invited me to join their just starting Level 1 Ravenloft game. Is this what happens when your normal DM fix fizzles? You start joining multiple games that comes along to prove how much you don’t need them while pining for them to come back?
Like most Forever DMs/Red Blooded Americans, I usually come to a new game looking to fill necessary slots rather than come to the table with a pre-conceived notion about “I want to play this class/story archetype.” So I asked, what is everyone else playing? One person is playing the “Blood Hunter,” a DM’s Guild class by Matt Mercer. Total Party Thrill discussed this class on their podcast and said it was far too powerful to allow at their table. Another player is a Barbarian, and the last other player was going Bard.
My initial urge was to Bring Forth Tando, the Halfling Mastermind Rogue I’ve wanted to play for a long time. But, this is a Ravenloft game. We’re going to lose. I elected to save Tando and decided what this party needs is a Cleric. But which kind of cleric? I did not want to be a Light Cleric because that is too close to Evelyn from Dice Camera Action. Then I thought, how about I play the Narrator from Shadow over Innsmouth, the short story by HP Lovecraft. Thus was born Miska Adorknack, Halfling Knowledge Cleric.
Before I really committed to this I rolled up my stats first. If I rolled shit then I probably would’ve selected a Wood Elf with martial training and a Wisdom bonus. Fortunately the Dice Gods favored my Sacrifice of Suboptimal Sacrifice and blessed me with an array of 18, 14, 12, 12, 9, 9. Pretty damn good. I did not want to play a Half-Elf because they have a rep as a powerful race choice. I really like Halflings and Gnomes for some reason. I almost never play humans. An Elf I felt would need to explain their long life and all that bullshit but a Halfling is basically a short fat human except not a human.
For my stats, I am thinking those 9s should go into Strength and Charisma. This is a Knowledge Cleric with a Sage/Academic background. He’s not a warpriest and he’s not an evangelist. He’s the Canon Lawyer drafting up Bulls and Precedents for the hierarchy. He’s a monk without the kung fu. This gives him a pretty robust Dex, Con, Int, and Wis. Let the bard do the talking, let the barbarian do the heavy lifting. I’ma Tyrion this bitch.
What makes a Knowledge Cleric? When I think of a Cleric, I think of the archetypes at the beginning of the Cleric chapter. The examples they give are a healer, a frontline warpriest, and a laser cleric blasting foes with radiant light. But the 5E cleric has more types of Cleric than that. There are a number of blended class Clerics. See the Nature Cleric who plays like a…Druid. See the Trickery Cleric who plays like a….Rogue. See the Arcana Cleric who plays like a…Wizard.
The Knowledge Cleric is a more spellcastery cleric than say, the War Cleric. Most clerics gain an extra 1d8 damage at 8th level but the Knowledge Cleric and Light Cleric instead gain their Wisdom Modifier to damage. They also gain no weapon or armor proficiencies indicating that the expectation is “Thou Shalt Use Spells Instead of Weapons.”
But which spells are those, exactly? If we’re comparing the Light Cleric to the Knowledge Cleric then I can’t help but note the Light Cleric gets Arcane spells like Fireball. Light’s Channel Divinity feature deals 2d10+Level Radiant Damage to everyone within 30 feet. The Knowledge features are way way less…damagey. For starters, you gain Expertise (Proficiency Doubled) in two Lore Skills. I decided to go with Religion and History. You also gain two languages. Just like my beloved Mastermind. For a Channel Divinity feature this Cleric gain proficiency in ANY SKILL OR TOOL for ten minutes. This might step on the Bard’s toes a little bit. Both classes get a mechanic to mitigate not being proficient in a skill.
I decided for Flavor Miska will carry a large tome. This is their holy symbol and how they become proficient in stuff. I will call it Codex Magnus Omnibus, which is sorta not really Latin for “The Big Book of Everything.” I have this vision of using Spiritual Weapon and instead of summoning a sword or mace I summon a book which beats the shit out of people. Same thing for Spirit Guardians.
As a 1st level 5E Character, there isn’t really much else to choose. I’m taking a Chain Shirt to avoid the stealth disadvantage that comes with Scale mail. I subscribe to the Sly Flourish Philosophy of 1st Level 5E PCs, that reaching 2nd level in 5E should require two rat swarms and a stern conversation. If you have D&D experience, just start at 3rd. 1st and 2nd level are for “The Cold Open.”
For my spell choices I took the standard Guidance/Sacred Flame combo. Errybody takes Guidance, but I’m going to roleplay it as consulting my codex for advice. For my third cantrip I’m taking Light since you know, halflings don’t have Darkvision.
So at the end of the day I have this very squishy sage Lovecraft character I’m bringing to a new group of people. A Cleric/Sage is always going to be semi-useful in the background. Or I’m going to get my shit wrecked and get eaten by wolves. If the game turns out to really combat heavy or the bard and I are stepping on each others toes I might need to junk him. Were this character to die I would probably replace him with an offensive caster like a Wizard or Light Cleric since the party has Melee and Charisma Caster roles locked in already. I’m trying not to get too attached yet.