Cleric boons

Roerich - Blessed soul (source)

Roerich – Blessed soul (source)

Hey look, it’s another system for cleric magic. You need another one of those, right?

In addition to turning undead, clerics have the ability to call upon boons from patron immortals. All boons require an action and the brandishing of a holy symbol. Any target must be touched. A cleric may use a number of boons per adventure equal to class level. Thus, a third level cleric may use three boons. Boons need not be prepared in the manner of magician spells. The following eight effects are available.

  • Bless: grant +1d6 towards a single specific action (use prior to roll).
  • Cure: restore 1d6 HP.
  • Dispel: suppress a major enchantment or destroy a minor enchantment.
  • Exorcise: drive out a possessing spirit, which may not return to the same host.
  • Know: determine whether an object or creature is unholy or possessed.
  • Light: holy symbol shines; duration and illumination as torch.
  • Purify: remove corruption, including from contaminated food or drink.
  • Resist: 1d6 DR versus one of acid, fire, lightning, or cold for one exploration turn.

That is a simple version of the system. A more complicated version might have clerics only start with access to a few boons (say, 1 to 3) and gain one more per level attained. In that case, eight boons are probably not enough. Here are several more (with the original entries repeated, so that this list can be used as a random table if desired).

  1. Antidote: negate the effects of poison if used within one exploration turn.
  2. Awe: impose penalty to enemy morale checks.
  3. Bless: grant +1d6 towards a single specific action (use prior to roll).
  4. Clear: counteract a magical mental effect such as confusion or charm.
  5. Cure: restore 1d6 HP.
  6. Courage: counteract magical fear.
  7. Dispel: suppress a major enchantment or destroy a minor enchantment.
  8. Exorcise: drive out a possessing spirit, which may not return to the same host.
  9. Inspire: grant bonus to morale checks for all allied retainers for one exploration turn.
  10. Know: determine whether an object or person is unholy, enchanted, or possessed.
  11. Light: holy symbol shines; duration and illumination as torch.
  12. Protect: grant a defensive bonus of +1d6 for one exploration turn.
  13. Purify: remove corruption, including contamination from food or drink.
  14. Question: know if the answer to one question is a lie.
  15. Remedy: cure a non-magical disease.
  16. Resist: 1d6 DR versus one of acid, fire, lightning, or cold for one exploration turn.
  17. Seal: closure may not be opened by unholy creatures while holy symbol remains.
  18. Silence: prevents speaking or the casting of spells for 1d6 turns.
  19. Smite: a weapon’s next successful strike deals +1d6 damage to an unholy creature.
  20. Ward: protection from unholy creatures for 1d6 turns or until recipient attacks.

10 thoughts on “Cleric boons

  1. John L

    This is a good idea. Vancian magic may work with wizards (some say it doesn’t work) but there is no reason other than a lack of imagination to say that clerics have to use Vancian spell slots as well.The list of boons you’ve given could be modified according to each deity (or divine philosophy) so that evil clerics could have baleful boons, while those deities with particular portfolios (such as oceans, the sun, craftsmen, war) have a range of boons that reflect the cleric’s beliefs.

  2. V. A.

    I like this. After all the cleric’s divine powers should manifest as “miracles” and the cleric should receive the boons/blessings of their deity as long as they remain in good stead.

    A number of other authors have discussed similar approaches, including variable deity response/support based on the level of prayer/sacrifice/tithing by the cleric.

    I assume that these are being considered as “cantrips” or low-level spells, leaving access to higher level spells?

    1. Brendan Post author

      V. A., thanks! This is designed as the entirety of a cleric’s powers, along with turn undead (which is too complex to encapsulate well as a simple boon), no matter the level of cleric. So a tenth level cleric can use 10 cures per excursion (or some other combination of boons) compared to a first level cleric’s single use. That said, I tend to prefer a more gradual power curve, with more restrained level of PC abilities, even at higher levels. You could, of course, make other powers available to high level clerics as well, perhaps as more involved rituals. I would probably handle such rituals in a more ad hoc, unsystematized way to maintain challenge and mystery.

      1. Alec Semicognito

        One might also make more of these boons scale up with level, so that for instance Light is 1 torch per level, and at 4th level will also do a small amount of damage to undead, and at 8th level will also reveal secret doors, etc.

        I really like your system, especially if the list of boons is custom-fitted to each deity.

  3. Mark

    I do not like AD&D/BECMI clerics and yet this is simple and clear. Even if the list of boons was divided up by deity/domain each cleric should have access to all the boons in that sub set. That makes for a good tool set for the cleric depending upon whatever situation faces the party. With a enough sub sets of boons you might even be able to run a campaign with no PC wizards only clerics, fighters and rogues.

  4. jdjarvis

    I like it. I’d probably drop the number of uses a day = to level and incorporate a divine reaction roll. Don’t want to annoy your deity who might refuse to aid you again until you visit a proper temple,maybe inflict you with a curse, or possibly strike you with a thunder bolt.

    1. Brendan Post author


      Yeah, uses a day = level is pretty much what I mean by “boons per adventure equal to class level.” Really, what I do in practice is not track things by day, but rather have PCs recover renewable resources during downtime, which I assume to be about a week but leave relatively abstract. So, you go you and do your adventuring, then return to town to recover. The downtime allows clerics to replenish their powers, magic-users to prepare spells, all characters to get back to full HP (I don’t bother to track recovery per day), and so forth. I just say “per adventure” here for simplicity’s sake, and in the trad TSR D&D context, per day would be totally reasonable.


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