In part 2 of my draft Labyrinth Lord house rules I added some details to the way magic-users operate in my Cinder campaign setting. Today I’m tackling clerics.
Turn, turn, turn that gang of vampires. That gang of vampires.
When a cleric succeeds at turning undead roll 2d6 for number of creatures affected, regardless of hit dice. (This really gives turning some oomph at higher levels. And it gives me an excuse to use oodles of badass undead.)
The gods loathe fence-sitters
Low level clerics can be of any of the three alignments, just like any other class. However, upon achieving seventh level a neutral cleric must choose to align themselves with Law or Chaos. Staying with neutrality means you’re stuck at sixth level forever. If you’re a neutral cleric of the Lawful-oriented Church of the Great Gold Dragon the presumption is that you’ll go with Law. Similarly, neutral clerics of the Frog Gods of Chaos generally join the chaotics. You may opt to go the other way, but you are considered to have secretly converted. Only clerics of chaos can cast the reversed versions of standard cleric spells and they cannot cast the normal non-reversed spells.
It’s not just an adventure, it’s a job.
Every cleric is a member of a hierarchy of their faith, and must answer to that hierarchy. When a cleric reaches third level they can expect an appointment to a post as a village priest, whereby they will be responsible for maintenance of the local shrine, oversight of the lay members of the faith and officiating at the proper festivals. Reaching sixth level generally leads to further promotion to a bishopric, resulting in either appointment to the leadership of a large urban temple or as a supervisor over a group of village priests.
No double dipping
Miracles are not dime-a-dozen repeatable events and therefore the same spell cannot be memorized twice. That is to say a second level cleric can memorize one cure light wounds and one resist cold, but not two cure lights or two resist colds.
The above rules are ultimately derived from my reading of the cleric material in OD&D. I kicked around the idea of using the cleric spell chart from Men & Magic, because I like that 6th level OD&D clerics inexplicably gain access to both third and fourth level spells. (You go from 2 first and 2 second level spells at fifth level to 2/2/1/1.) But I didn't want to take away the first level spell that newly minted clerics get under Labyrinth Lord. That goes against my general house-ruling philosophy that PCs should be at least as awesome under my house rules as they are in the book. ("No double dipping" is in direct opposition to this rule-of-thumb and I should probably devote a future post to why I'm imposing this rule.)
Also, for players who want to play clerics but don't want to delve too deeply into the campaign background, I intend to have some dice charts for random divine allegiance. For the average dungeon delve it doesn't matter that much whether a Lawful cleric is a member of the mainstream Universal Church of the Great Gold Dragon or the rival Ancient Church or one of the Brass Heretics. But it will matter in adventures in towns and NPC encounters.