Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cult Class(ic)

I've had this idea rolling around in my head for a while, and when I saw this post by Arnold, i figured out how to fit it all together.
A  race-class for Old School D&D
HP and XP as Magic-user
Save and Attack Bonus as Cleric

Godlings are minor, furtive divinities unable to directly interfere with the Land of the Living and the mortals therein. Instead, they act through cults and miracles, in hopes of establishing a true religion and becoming a greater god. Godlings can look like pretty much anything (that isn't stupid) and their size and appearance becomes progressively more impressive as they gain levels.
Godlings can perceive, speak with, and cast spells on anything near their shrines. If all of a godling's shrines are destroyed, their connection with the Land of the Living is permanently severed (i.e. it's time for a new character).

1st level godlings start with a single shabby shrine in the nearest settlement. Godlings gain 1 xp for every gold piece spent on improving any of their shrines. Improvements can be aesthetic, or they can make the shrine harder to find or destroy. Godlings can also build new shrines to make themselves harder to permanently banish--establishing one costs 1000 sp and doesn't count towards experience.

from princess mononoke
To interact with the Land of the Living beyond their shrine, a godling needs followers to act as proxies. In any town they have a shrine, they can establish a cult. To do so, they need to formulate some sort of creed or promise for their followers. Funny clothes help, too. The total number of cultists cannot exceed the godling's level. Cultists work like retainers, save for the following:
  • A godling can perceive through any of their cultists' senses, communicate with them mentally, and cast spells through them 
  • Cultists will do any mundane, non-dangerous task their godling tells them to do without question, and can be trusted not to steal items or money. 
  • Cultists receive a permanent +1 to Morale for every spell their godlings casts in their presence
  • Cultists do not require payment
Godlings still might have other worshipers, but cultists are the ones fanatic enough to put themselves at risk. Godlings can hire regular retainers, too, though they require pay and won't sing your weird songs or wear those stupid robes. Other player characters cannot become cultists.

Godlings can cast a number of spells equal to their level each adventure. They can cast any spell they know and begin knowing all the spells in a single school. Godlings can gain access to additional spell schools by hunting down one of their fellows in the Land of Spirits and eating them. Any spell that targets the self can instead be cast on a godling's cultists. A godling's spell school is a reflection of their nature:

Devil: Diabolism
God of Nature: Elementalism
God of Death: Necromancy
God of Magic: Spiritualism
God of Travel: Translocation
God of Dreams: Psychomancy
God of Life: Vivimancy

The Spirit World coincides perfectly, intangibly, and invisibly with the Land of the Living. Every location in the Spirit World has a Land of the Living analogue. Godlings can directly interact with creatures and objects in the Spirit World, so players should be explicit where their character is--a godling can function perfectly well hanging out in town, sending miracles at a distance, but they won't be able to interfere with Spirit World obstacles for their co-adventurers if they do so.

In any situation where a godling actually enters combat (such as when they confront another spirit or if they are pulled into the Land of the Living by a spell), they fight as a Cleric of equal level.


  1. This is fantastic stuff. I like that character progression grows horizontally (by number of cultists) instead of vertically (instead of a single, powerful PC). You could almost do a campaign where all the players are godlings, and compose a young pantheon.

    I like the distance between our two posts. While my guardian angels are personal and maybe even a little storygamey, this is gonzo and worldbuildery. Sort of an inverse of the same idea.

    1. Thanks!

      Gross idea: young pantheon campaign in Carcosa. I'd definitely do it in a cleaned-up version.