03 February 2019

Religion of the Cleric: 4th Level Spells

Continuing my discussion of how Clerical magic can help us understand his religious beliefs. In this post I come across some interesting implications. The Deity which the Cleric worships may be the creator of life in the universe.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Animate Dead
This spell allows the caster to make animated, enchanted skeletons or zombies from normal skeletons or dead bodies within range. These animated undead creatures will obey the cleric until they are destroyed by another cleric or a dispel magic spell. For each level of the cleric, one Hit Die of undead may be animated. A skeleton has the same Hit Dice as the original creature, but a zombie has one Hit Die more than the original. Character levels are not counted (the remains of a 9th level thief would be animated as a zombie with 2 HD). Animated creatures do not have any spells, but are immune to sleep and Cham effects and poison.
     Lawful clerics must take care to use this spell only for good purpose. Animating the dead is usually a Chaotic act.

This seems to be explicitly an evil spell, or in other words a spell used by those who fight against the Church. This is clearly a desecration of the dead, meaning the Church respects the dead and generally wants to leave them to 'rest in peace.' What constitutes a good purpose, and how would a good Cleric justify the use of this spell? Possibly as guardians of an artifact or tomb or some other sacred ground. I really can't think of any other 'good purpose' for a cleric to use this spell.

Create Water
With this spell, the cleric summons forth an enchanted spring from the ground or a wall. The spring will flow for an hour, creating enough water for 12 men and their mounts (for that day, about 50 gallons). For each of the cleric’s levels above 8, water for twelve additional men and mounts is created.

This is direct evidence that the Church and the Deity worshiped by the Cleric gives life to supplicants. Water is not just representative of life, but also a literally necessary to sustain life. with this a 36th level cleric could provide water for 348 men and 348 horses with a single spell, and he could do this nine time in a single day if necessary. A single high level cleric could provide water for an army in a desert; this is very reminiscent of Moses and the Israelites.

Cure Serious Wounds
This spell is similar to a cure light wounds spell, but will cure one creature of 4-14 points of damage (2d6 + 2). 
     The reverse of this spell, cause series-wound, causes 4-14 points of damage to any creature or character touched (no Saving Throw). The caster must make a normal Hit roll to cause the serious wound.

The Church is a source of healing to believers. The Cleric doesn't just preach a message of healing, but literally heals the wounded. And the enemies of the Church will do the opposite. Evil Clerics will bring pain and injury instead. There is stark contrast between these two philosophies.

Dispel Magic
This spell destroys other spell effects in a cubic volume of 20’ x 20’ x 20‘. It does not affect magic items. Spell effects created by a caster (whether cleric, magic-user, or elf) of a level equal to or lower than the caster of the dispel magic are automatically and immediately destroyed. Spell effects created by a higher level caster might not be affected. The chance of failure is 5% per level of difference between the casters. For example, a 7th level cleric trying to dispel a web spell cast by a 9th level magic-user would have a 10% chance of failure.

Interestingly this implies that the Church not only has greater power than secular magic-users, but is also opposed to them. This spell does not specify any type or class of magic that is dispelled; all magic within range is affected indiscriminately. Apparently the Church claims to have the right to choose where and when magic is allowed to be practiced. I would envision a dogmatic enforcement of a ban against non-clerical magic in most urban centers.

Neutralize Poison
This spell will make poison harmless either in a creature, a container (such as a bottle), or on one object (such as a chest). It will even revive a victim slain by poison if cast within 10 rounds of the poisoning! The spell will affect any and all poisons present at the time it is cast, but does not cure any damage (and will thus not revive a poisoned victim who has died of wounds). 
     The reverse of this spell, create poison, may be cast, by touch, on a creature or container. It cannot be cast on any other object. A victim must make a Saving Throw vs. Poison or be immediately slain by the poison. If cast on a container, the contents become poisoned; no Saving Throw applies, even for magical containers or contents (such as potions). Poisoning is usually a Chaotic act.

So this again reinforces the idea of a message of healing. I think it also speaks to an idea of purification. Something that was unclean or dangerous now becomes purified and harmless. and the reverse for evil Clerics reinforces the idea that the enemies of the Church bring death to others.

Protection from Evil 10’ Radius
This spell creates an invisible magical barrier all around the caster, extending 10’ in all directions. The spell serves as protection from “evil” attacks (attacks by monsters of an alignment other than the caster’s). Each creature within the barrier gains a + 1 to all Saving Throws, and all attacks against those within are penalized by -1 to the attacker’s Hit roll while the spell lasts.
     In addition, “enchanted” creatures cannot attack those within the barrier hand-to-hand. Enchanted creatures can attack with missile or magical attacks however. An “enchanted” creature is any creature that is magically summoned, animated or controlled (as with a charm spell) or can only be hit by a magical weapon. Creatures that can be hit by silver weapons are not enchanted.
     If anyone within the barrier attacks an enchanted creature, the barrier will no longer prevent the creature from attacking hand-to-hand, but the bonus to Saving Throws and penalty to Hit rolls will still apply.

The Deity worshiped by the Cleric provides protection to his followers. Also enchanted creatures are enemies of the Church. Because the extra effect against enchanted creatures only applies if the Cleric doesn't attack implies a generally pacifistic Deity. He will protect his followers as long as they act peacefully.

Speak with Plants
This spell enables the cleric to talk to plants as if they were intelligent. A simple favor may be requested, and will be granted if it is within the plants’ power to understand and perform. This spell may be used to allow the cleric and party to pass through otherwise impenetrable undergrowth. It will also allow communication with plantlike monsters (such as treants).

This reinforces the Deity as one connected with the natural world. It also implies that plant life is sentient (though not necessarily sapient), and can voluntary move. Very reminiscent to the forest which traveled a great distance in The Lord of the Rings. In any case the Deity worshiped isn't exclusive to Humans, but also has a connection with the mundane plants and animals of the world. this may imply  the Deity created the world or this connection might come from another source.

Sticks to Snakes
This spell turns 2-16 sticks into snakes (detailed below). The snakes may be poisonous (50% chance per snake). They obey the cleric’s commands, but will turn back into sticks when slain or when the duration ends.

This more than any other spell so far implies a power over life itself. The Deity, and therefore his followers, can cause an inanimate object to come to life(if only briefly). This requires a complete restructuring of atoms and molecules, and maybe the creation of new atoms that would be present in a living snake, but not in a stick of wood. This is very interesting. I think this spell really requires us to think about who this Deity is and the source of his power/abilities. It is extremely likely that if this Deity did not create the world, he very possibly created life itself.

1 comment:

  1. From the Google+ group Mystara & the Known World

    Lance Duncan:
    I get to some interesting spells which imply an interesting nature of the Deity worshiped by the D&D Cleric

    Hugh Acton:
    One thing about dispel magic: though it doesn’t distinguish between divine and arcane magic, that distinction isn’t part of the rule system either. In classic DnD spells are either clerical or magic. That implies that dispel magic may target what would be known nowadays as arcane magic (though admittedly, other parts of the rules are not so clear).

    Lance Duncan:
    That's a good point. So there might be a scenario where the Church is going around and dispelling the magic of a rogue Cleric. Or maybe an evil cleric could dispel the protections that the church provides to the common people.

    This is some interesting food for thought. It's entirely possible there are different factions within the Church trying to permit only their specific brand of magic.

    Hugh Acton:
    that’s interesting too, actually. But I was thinking it just targeted magic user/elf magic. Though now that I think about it, it most certainly should counter chaos cleric spells too.
    I tend to think there are only Law or Chaos clerics: a church and a temple (or cult, or coven, something sinister) if you will.

    Lance Duncan:
    I'm starting to think Clerics might all be members of the same church, but evil/chaotics are either a secret cult organization hiding within the orders of the church, or a branch of the church considered heretical by the main body.