In yesterday’s article about the evolution of how gods and clerics were treated in various editions, I used the Greyhawk deity Heironeous as an example, and promised a 5E treatment of him. And thus today’s article.
To recap, the various editions waxed and waned with special powers, spells, and the like given to clerics based on their choice of patron deity. My solution for 5th edition D&D is to add a unique Divine Domain for each god in the various pantheons, following the same rules and general guidelines as the existing domains so as to not overpower things. Those domains give the following:
- 2 spells each at spell levels 1-5 as “domain spells” which don’t need to be prepared (but still cost a spell slot to cast). Domain spells can come from lists other than the normal cleric spell list, which gives me an entree into unique spells for various deities.
- One Channel Divinity ability at 2nd level (the first is universally Turn Undead in the core rules, but I change that based on the deity involved).
- Another Channel Divinity power at 2nd level unique to the domain.
- Unique abilities at 1st, 6th, 8th, and 17th level.
Here’s how I apply the format of 5th edition Divine Domains to the example of Heironeous from yesterday. Obviously, not everyone is going to agree with my choices, which are entirely subjective (and as we say in the reconstructionist heathenry biz, “my brilliant intuitive synthesis of disparate sources into a single coherent expression is your blasphemous adulteration of the time-honored traditions of our ancestors;” in other words, your mileage may vary).
First, the Channel Divinity Turn Undead power. In FtA we’re told that clerics of Heironeous turn undead at 2 levels below their actual level. So I tweak the Turn Undead ability and give undead advantage when saving when the cleric is 1st or 2nd level, and delay their ability to destroy undead by 2 levels.
Next, the domain spells. There are way more spells in the various products (and some of them way more powerful) than the standard domain template allows for. There are also a couple of powers I’d like to keep, but which seem far more appropriate as spells than powers. Finally, there are a few spells in there that just, to my mind, seem out of place for the god of chivalry, and which I wouldn’t mind jettisoning.
I end up keeping 5 of the new spells (bolt of glory gets put back into its original place as a Channel Divinity power, rather than a spell), adding a brand-new one (shining blade of Heironeous, which replaces the shock blade/holy blade/brilliant blade power from 3.5), and pulling in a few paladin spells from 5th edition to round out the domain spell list.
Finally, for the domain powers, I take the armor and weapon proficiencies from various editions, the resistance to fear from 2E, the immunity to strength-draining magic from 2E, the bolt of glory from all editions, and the ability to cast holy word from 2E.
A special note on the bolt of glory power; it was an 11th level power in 1E and a 6th level spell in 2E and 3.5. But in the 5th edition framework, there’s only a slot at 8th level and 17th. I opted to put it at 8th level, and knocked down the damage dice slightly to make up for the change.
So, with all that explanation (back in the day we used to call it “designer’s notes”), here’s my entry for Heironeous, in first draft form of how it will appear in my 5th Edition Player’s Guide to Greyhawk 576, should it ever see the light of day. I invite you to envision a book that has an entry like this for 67 more lesser, greater, and demi-gods. (Note to anyone from Wizards of the Coast who might be reading this; the book’s mostly written, as is the DM’s Guide, if you’d like to save yourselves a buttload of work!)
Heironeous is the son of Stern Alia and brother of both the evil Hextor and the slain god of war Stratis. He is the Oeridian god of chivalry, justice, and honor. He dwells in the Seven Heavens, but visits Oerth often to assist the cause of lawful good. He loathes his brother Hextor, and the feeling is reciprocal; they, and their proxies and worshipers, will always seek to thwart the other. He is also an enemy of Erythnul and Kurell. He is an unflinching champion of law, but tempers this with an understanding of the importance of mercy.
Heironeous is depicted as tall with coppery skin, auburn hair, and eyes of amber hue. He wears a suit of enchanted chainmail with a very fine mesh. His copper skin was magically treated at his birth to deflect most weapons, whether they be enchanted or not. He can appear as a young boy, an old man, or a mercenary soldier, but will always have his enchanted mail suit. He wields a magical battle axe named Gloryaxe which can shift from its normal 5 foot length to but 3 inches, as he wills it.
Heironeous can hurl forth bolts of energy drawn directly from the positive material plane, which will do great harm to mortals and undead, as well as those creatures from the lower planes. He will sometimes manifest as a bolt of lightning, or wrap his followers in a cloak of bravery. He has been known to sprinkle entire military units with a coppery dust that improves morale and deflects fear-inducing magic. Those who displease him will find their weapons and armor rusting, or be subject to small (1 hp damage) electrical shocks.
WORSHIP AND WORSHIPERS
Worshipers of Heironeous are common throughout the Flanaess, particularly among soldiers and others in military professions. They must be lawful neutral, lawful good, or neutral good. Temples and other shrines look like castles and are decorated in blue and silver, with stained glass windows showing the god victorious over some enemy (usually his brother Hextor). A statue of Heironeous made of copper, with seven silver bolts of energy radiating from the head, clad in silver mail with a silver axe, stands behind the altar. The Prelacy of Almor is ruled by the church of Heironeous, and they also lead the Knights of Holy Shielding, but his worshipers are found almost everywhere.
Heironeous’ clerics are warlike and aggressive, and always wear chain mail, with blue robes with silver trim. They must be of lawful neutral, lawful good, or neutral good alignment. They are very well-organized, with armories and logistical bases around the Flanaess, and an excellent communications system. The priesthood is organized as a military order, with older priests taking on the roles of teachers and strategists. Novitiates are called the Blessed, while priests are called Glorious (the priesthood as a whole is called the Valorous Host). Enchanted chain mail or battle axes are a sign of great favor within the faith.
Clerics of Heironeous have access to the war domain or the special domain of their deity. Those who choose the latter are called Gloryaxes.
Clerics of Heironeous do not turn undead as effectively as other priests might. From level 2-3, undead making saving throws against attempts to turn them have advantage. The ability to destroy undead doesn’t begin until 7th level, and then progresses as if the cleric were 2 levels lower than his actual level.
Cleric Level Spells
1st detect breath*, shining blade of Heironeous*
3rd shield of Heironeous*, vigilance*,
5th bless missile*, glyph of warding
7th abstention*, staggering smite
9th banishing smite, destructive wave
* Indicates new spell.
When they choose this domain at 1st level, clerics of Heironeous are proficient in all armor and simple and martial weapons.
Also at 1st level, you get a +2 bonus to all saving throws and ability checks vs. fear.
CHANNEL DIVINITY: RIGHTEOUS STRENGTH
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to increase your strength score by a number of points equal to your proficiency bonus. This will last for one hour, and can be done but once per long rest.
Starting at 6th level, you are immune to all magical and other effects which drain or otherwise lower your strength score, whether permanently or temporarily.
CHANNEL DIVINITY: BOLT OF GLORY
Starting at 8th level, you are able to summon a bolt of divine energy to smite your enemies. It has a range of 60 feet, and can affect one creature, which is entitled to a Dexterity saving throw; if successful it will only take half damage. The bolt does not count as magical for purposes of being dispelled, crossing anti-magic barriers, etc. The amount of damage depends on the home place of the target creature:
- Upper planes, Positive energy plane: None
- Astral plane, Ethereal plane: 6 (2d6)
- Elemental planes, Plane of Shadow, Concordant Opposition, Mechanus, Limbo: 9 (3d6) hp damage
- Material plane: 12 (4d6) hp damage
- Lower planes and all undead: 24 (8d6) hp damage
- Negative material plane: 42 (14d6) hp damage
Starting at 17th level, you can use the spell holy word once per long rest, without using a spell slot. The spell does not need to be prepared beforehand.
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The world is full of peril, and life is ordeal for those who would protect the weak and innocent. Honor must be your watchword, and every word and deed must be directed at upholding justice, mercy, and chivalry, for these are the Three Virtues of Heironeous. Bravery and virtue must be your bywords, for the brave inspire the virtuous, and the virtuous inspire the brave. When danger beckons, courage and wisdom will be your greatest weapons, but never let down your guard, for it is in such times that evil will strike sixfold. – The Book of the Code
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