While prepping for a 10th-level-one-shot-kill-a-dragon-playtest, I realized that clerics that don’t specifically focus on the War, Fire, and/or Thunder Domains have only situational usefulness in combat (which we probably would’ve realized sooner if almost all of the playtest clerics didn’t pick the War Domain).
A 5th-level fighter going down the Slayer/Sundering tree deals around 3d6+6 damage, with armor piercing 1, while a rogue can easily get away using Dexterity for most weapons, which also works well with their Reflex and several key skills (plus, the Sneak Attack tree lets them pile on some extra damage).
Though wizards (currently) must choose whether to have an offensive magical option (specifically the Evoker talent), in virtually every playtest players have opted for stuff like Enchanter and Illusionist, both of which have proven useful in combat. In fact, in our Age of Worms playtest campaign, Humal’s go-to tactic is to use Illusionist to temporarily blind enemies.
But a cleric? It depends on your Strength, but assuming no offense Domains you’re looking at probably 1d8+1 or +2 damage with something like a heavy mace. Now, against many enemies—with Armor ratings of maybe 0-2—it’s not that bad, as monster “hit points” don’t needlessly scale based on your level: a bandit is a bandit, no matter if you fight it at 1st-, 5th-, or 10th-level, and even a 1st-level Healing-focused cleric could feasibly take one out in a couple of hits.
Against big-ass enemies, however, with many hit points and Armor ratings of 3 or even 4? You’re basically chipping away, up until the enemy likely clobbers your ass. Sure, if you’re going down the Healing tree you can shave off a good amount of damage that you and your friends end up taking, but that doesn’t use up your turn; best case scenario you’re just standing around (unlike the wizard, who has to use his turn doing stuff).
So, we’re giving all clerics a Wisdom-based attack at 1st-level. For now I’m calling it Lance of Faith (name subject to change). It has a 30-foot range, uses Wisdom to attack, deals 1d6+Wisdom damage, but costs 1 Favor each time you use it (so unlike 4E and 5E D&D it’s not an at-will thing). It also automatically scales as you level up: at 5th-level it’ll deal 1d8 damage, and at 10th it’ll deal 1d10, but I could see talents further boosting it (like something that blinds the enemy if you roll a 15+).
War clerics of course can continue to largely focus on their weapons, which can still give them more damage: Spiritual Weapon lets you conjure a radiant weapon that relies on Wisdom to attack and damage, and the War Domain tree lets you reroll attack rolls and tack on extra damage.
We’ve been doing a long term, episodic/sandbox FrankenFourth playtest campaign with the kids (try new characters, see how characters of various levels interact so maybe you won’t have to try and keep everyone’s level the same), so I’ll just add this to our daughter’s cleric and see how it works out from here.
The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we’ll run another class vote.
By fan demand, we’ve mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).