The Priest

Introduction

Healer; adviser; sage; trusted companion; caretaker of the soul; defender of the faith: the priest is all of these, and more. She is an intermediary between the material world and the realms of the divine — gods, elemental forces, hostile and benevolent spirits, angels and demons, and other such things that are beyond the ken of everyday folk. Invested with momentous gifts by the powers that be, the priest provides spiritual guidance and leadership to her people, and gives them succour in times of peril.

The mechanics for this class are based on the shaman from Oriental Adventures. The priest’s niche overlaps significantly with that of the cleric, and so a campaign should include either priests or clerics, but not both. The traditional D&D cleric, which is basically a “martial priest”, can be handily represented as a multiclassed fighter/priest (see below). A campaign that includes characters from both eastern and western cultures could, however, feature both shamans and priests — since the priest is basically a western version of the shaman, and vice-versa.

It should also be emphasised that the priest represents an idealised version of a servant of the faith. The great faiths of civilised lands share many common tenets, although these are often overlooked in the quest to find points of difference. The importance of religious strife in any given campaign is something that is up to the individual DM.

Adventures

If a priest finds herself thrown into adventure, it is often because of her unique position in between the material and the divine worlds. If she is a member of an organised faith, her superiors may ask her to recover an item of holy significance, or her talents may be required to help defeat a cabal of demon worshippers that is that is threatening the land. Priests who have no specific ties to a religious hierarchy can also find themselves in such a situation, although the request for aid would come through more informal channels. Priests who traffic with the forces of darkness are often driven to commit foul deeds in order to retain their abilities. More than any other class, priests are subject to the whims of the powers that hold sway over the universe, whether benevolent or malign.

Characteristics

Priests are masters of divine magic. A priest’s spells are obtained from the powers that rule the divine realm, although the specific spells granted vary from faith to faith (and from priest to priest). The priest uses the gifts she is granted to aid her people, and to advance the cause of her deity. Should it become necessary, she is also equipped to call down the righteous vengeance of her deity on the enemies of her faith.

An important variant of the priest is the martial priest, or holy warrior. The martial priest is a member of the church militant: a warrior schooled in the ways of the divine, and a priest trained in the arts of war. While priests certainly shouldn’t be underestimated, many of them are not particularly well-versed in the martial arts, believing instead that they are best equipped to serve their religion and their people in peaceful ways. In a world where fiends and dragons ravage the land, and evil is an active, implacable force, this may not be enough.

Martial priests are priests who take up arms to defeat such foes. They defend the faithful from those who would prey on them, and seek out the enemies of their god and destroy them on their own ground. They are typically multiclassed barbarian/priests, fighter/priests or knight/priests, and are perhaps the most commonly encountered servants of the divine to be found in an adventuring situation. Martial priests are sometimes known as “clerics”, for obscure historical reasons.

Alignment and Religion

The prevalent faiths in most civilised lands represent the forces of good or law. A priest of such a faith has a similar alignment (that is, she must be non-evil or non-chaotic respectively), and uses the gifts granted to her to benefit her people. Some priests are evil, however, and give their allegiance to the powers of darkness. Such priests seek dominion over the hearts and souls of others.

A priest does not necessarily have to venerate a particular deity, although this may be a feature of some polytheistic religions.

Background

The most important aspect of being a priest is the willingness to place one’s destiny in the hands of the powers of the divine realm. Without such faith, a priest is nothing. Apart from that, priests come from a multitude of races and backgrounds. Some are representatives of great, world-spanning religions, whose temples and cathedrals of hewn stone and carved wood stand as monuments to the power of belief. Others are simple village healers or tribal mystics, who are content to administer to the needs of their friends and neighbours. All non-evil priests share a devotion to their flock, however, whether it’s half a dozen families or an empire of millions of souls; and a determination to keep evil from increasing its power.

Races

Priests are found among all the civilised races, although most of them have too many responsibilities to lead an adventuring life. Such characters are most likely to be human, elven or half-elven, while martial priests are most likely to be human or dwarven.

Priests are rare among the savage humanoids, most of whom recognise no greater dimension to life beyond the purely material. A priest of such a race would be an exceptional individual in more ways than one.

Other Classes

Most adventurers view the priest with a mixture of respect and trepidation. Her unique relationship with the divine world can make more mundane characters uncomfortable, regardless of how virtuous or villainous they may be. Wizards and sorcerers, and wielders of arcane magic in general, may feel a certain amount of rivalry with her, since her powers spring from a source that is unfathomable and inaccessible to them. Despite this, few adventurers would begrudge a priest’s power to heal and otherwise help an adventuring party, and most would also feel some measure of friendship and affection towards her for this reason.

For their own part, priests see the divine spark in all those around them, and so tend to show understanding and compassion towards members of most other classes. This does not hold for evil priests, who are prone to see everyone as a tool to be used in their quest for ultimate power.


Class Statistics

Hit die: d6

Class skills: Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (planes) (Int), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int).

Skill points/level: 4 + Int modifier (x4 at 1st level)

Alignment: Any.

Starting gold: 4d4 x 10 gp

The following tables detail the abilities and spells gained by level for the priest. The priest gets one or two domain spells for each spell level, starting at 1st. The “+1” and “+2” on the list represent this. These spells are in addition to any bonus spells for having a high Wisdom.

Priest Level Progression

Level

Base Attack
Bonus

Fort
Save

Ref
Save

Will
Save

Special

1

+0

+0

+0

+2

Turn or rebuke undead

2

+1

+0

+0

+3

Bonus feat

3

+1

+1

+1

+3

Divine health

4

+2

+1

+1

+4

Bonus feat

5

+2

+1

+1

+4

Divine favour

6

+3

+2

+2

+5

 

7

+3

+2

+2

+5

 

8

+3

+2

+2

+6

Bonus feat

9

+4

+3

+3

+6

 

10

+5

+3

+3

+7

 

11

+5

+3

+3

+7

Third domain

12

+6/+1

+4

+4

+8

Bonus feat

13

+6/+1

+4

+4

+8

 

14

+7/+2

+4

+4

+9

 

15

+7/+2

+5

+5

+9

 

16

+8/+3

+5

+5

+10

Bonus feat

17

+8/+3

+5

+5

+10

 

18

+9/+4

+6

+6

+11

 

19

+9/+4

+6

+6

+11

 

20

+10/+5

+6

+6

+12

Bonus feat

Priest Spell Progression

 

Spells per Day (regular + domain)

Level

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

1

3

1+1

2

4

2+1

3

4

2+1

1+1

4

5

3+1

2+1

5

5

3+1

2+1

1+1

6

5

3+1

3+1

2+1

7

6

4+1

3+1

2+1

1+1

8

6

4+1

3+1

3+1

2+1

9

6

4+1

4+1

3+1

2+1

1+1

10

6

4+1

4+1

3+1

3+1

2+1

11

6

4+2

4+1

4+1

3+1

2+1

1+1

12

6

4+2

4+1

4+1

3+1

3+1

2+1

13

6

4+2

4+2

4+1

4+1

3+1

2+1

1+1

14

6

4+2

4+2

4+1

4+1

3+1

3+1

2+1

15

6

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+1

4+1

3+1

2+1

1+1

16

6

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+1

4+1

3+1

3+1

2+1

17

6

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+1

4+1

3+1

2+1

1+1

18

6

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+1

4+1

3+1

3+1

2+1

19

6

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+1

4+1

3+1

3+1

20

6

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+2

4+1

4+1

4+1

4+1

Priest Class Features

The following are class features of the priest.

Weapon and armour proficiency: The priest gains proficiency with all simple weapons, and with light armour. Some domains may grant additional proficiencies.

Spells: The priest casts spells according to the accompanying table. She may prepare and cast any spell on the cleric spell list, provided she can cast spells of that level (alignment restrictions may mean that casting some spells may have unpleasant consequences). The DC for a saving throw against a priest’s spell is 10 + the spell’s level + the priest’s Wisdom modifier.

Priests do not acquire their spells from books or scrolls, nor prepare them through study. Instead, they meditate or pray for their spells, receiving them as gifts from the divine powers that they worship. Each priest must choose a time at which she spends an hour each day in prayer or meditation to regain her daily allotment of spells (typically this hour is at dawn or noon for good priests, and at dusk or midnight for evil ones). Time spent resting has no effect on whether a priest can prepare spells.

In addition to her standard spells, a priest gets one domain spell of each spell level, starting at 1st. When a priest prepares a domain spell, it must come from one of her two domains (see below for details).

Domains and domain spells: Choose two domains for your priest. Each domain represents an aspect of the supernatural world with which you are highly attuned, or a facet of your religion with which you have familiarised yourself. Each domain gives you access to a domain spell at each spell level, from 1st on up, as well as a granted power. Your priest gets the granted powers of both domains that you select, but may only prepare one domain spell per spell level per day. She can choose which domain spell at each spell level she wishes to prepare. If a domain spell is not on the cleric spell list, she can only prepare it in her domain slot. Domain spells and granted powers for priests are the same as for clerics (see the PHB).

When a priest reaches 11th level, she can choose a third domain, and gains access to the spells and granted power of this domain. Each day, she can prepare two domain spells at certain levels as given by the table, chosen from any of her three domains.

Spontaneous casting: A good priest can channel stored spell energy into healing spells that she hasn’t prepared ahead of time. The priest can “lose” a prepared spell in order to cast any cure spell of the same level or lower (a cure spell is one with the word “cure” in its name). Good priests can do this because they are especially proficient at wielding positive energy.

An evil priest, on the other hand, can’t convert prepared spells to cure spells but can convert them to inflict spells (an inflict spell is one with “inflict” in its title). Such priests are especially proficient at wielding negative energy.

A neutral priest (one who is neither good nor evil in alignment) can convert spells to either cure or inflict spells (player’s choice), depending on whether the priest is more proficient at wielding positive or negative energy. Once the player makes this choice, it cannot be reversed. This choice also determines whether the priest turns or commands undead (see below).

The priest can’t use spontaneous casting to convert domain spells into cure or inflict spells. These spells arise from the priest’s own particular relationship with her deity, not divine energy in general.

Chaotic, evil, good, and lawful spells: A priest can’t cast spells of an alignment opposed to her own. A good priest cannot cast evil spells, and vice-versa. Spells associated with the alignments of chaos, evil, good, and law are identified as such on the “School, Subschool and Descriptors” line of the spell description.

Turn or rebuke undead: The priest has the supernatural ability to turn or rebuke undead. She may use this ability a number of times per day equal to three plus her Charisma modifier. Neutral clerics must choose to either turn or rebuke undead (see spontaneous casting above).

Divine health: At 3rd level, a priest gains immunity to all diseases, including magical diseases such as mummy rot and lycanthropy.

Divine favour: A priest of 5th level or higher adds her Charisma modifier (if positive) as a bonus on all saving throws.

Bonus feats: At 2nd level, 4th level and every four levels thereafter, the priest gains a bonus feat. The priest must choose her bonus feats from the following list: all item creation and metamagic feats, Extra Turning, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Martial Weapon Proficiency (one weapon), Toughness, Second Sight (see below), or Weapon Focus. At the DM’s option, feats from other sourcebooks (such as Defenders of the Faith, for example) may also be taken as bonus feats.

Extra turning: As a feat, a priest may take Extra Turning. This feat allows the priest to turn undead four more times per day than normal. She can take this feat multiple times, gaining four extra daily turning attempts each time.

Second Sight: On reaching 2nd level or higher, a priest can take the special feat Second Sight. A priest with this feat can see ethereal creatures, such as ghosts, as easily as she sees material creatures and objects. The priest can easily distinguish between ethereal creatures and material ones, because ethereal creatures appear translucent and indistinct. This is a supernatural ability.

Ex-Priests

A priest who grossly violates the code of conduct expected of a representative of her religion (generally acting in ways opposed to the alignment or purposes of her divine patrons) loses all spells and special abilities and cannot gain levels as a priest of that religion until she atones. Alternatively, she may decide to take up the priesthood in an opposing religion; the details of this process are left to the DM.


Back to D&D page