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D&D 3E
The divine archivist 
15th-Apr-2007 11:49 pm
Disney-Mermaid MythandMagic
Hello! I'm working on a new D&D character, and I've come up with a character concept that really requires me to create my own class. Or adapt several classes for it. I'm trying to make something balanced, both in power and in mechanics vs. roleplay potential. And I'm hoping you guys can offer me some advice!

The concept
My character is a cleric named Kendra. She doesn't have the martial capabilities that a cleric usually has, though. She's more of a student. She worships a deity of knowledge, with the idea that knowledge and wisdom are things we gain as we travel through our lives. We gain it from learning from history and from our own experiences. Because of this, her purpose is to pursue knowledge, usually magical knowledge, in the same way that a devoted wizard might pursue arcane knowledge. She goes into any situation with a mix of curiosity and logic. Her faith believes that you can't really find fulfillment if you are really smart, or really wise. Both intelligence and wisdom are required for true enlightenment. So, she seeks both. She has a NG or LG alignment and is fully capable of healing the party, but she is equally capable of accomplishing other tasks, almost all of which are through the use of magic. Personality-wise, if you were to put a bard, a cleric and a wizard together, you'd have something similar to this divine archivist. And though she is referred to as a archivist, her faith believes that life is a journey, and you'll never gain the knowledge you seek if you don't look for it. So, she is constantly wandering, looking for new experiences, new magic, and more information.

The mechanics
Here's how I started putting Kendra together, mechanics wise. I started with the cloistered cleric variant in the Unearthed Arcana. The variant cleric gains a poor BAB and a d6 HD, but they gain more class skills, a higher number of skill points/level, the benefit of the knowledge domain, and the lore class ability, which works exactly like the bardic knowledge ability. Then a friend mentioned a divine spellcaster in the Heroes of Horror book called the Archivist. Most of the class didn't appeal to me (it's made for a dark, horror-type theme), but I fell in love with their spell system. The archivist basically casts divine spells like a wizard. Meaning that they aren't granted all their spells from their deity. They have a spellbook and they have to seek out new spells just as a wizard would. I don't know why, but I really like this idea. Really REALLY like it. I mean, it's not real enlightenment if a deity just hands you a bunch of spells. You should search for them, seek them out, learn them from those who have come before. The learning is just as important as the knowledge you gain in the end. So, between those two classes, I've come close to getting exactly what I want. There's only a few things I'm working out that I could use advice on.

1. The archivist doens't learn domains like a cleric, but I really want the domain ability. Specifically, magic and protection, plus knowledge which comes with the cloistered cleric variant class. Without the domains, the archivist can cast more spells / day than a wizard, but less than a sorcerer. Would it be fair, to take away one of their spells/day for every level and make it a domain spell? For example, intead of casting 4 1st level spells/day, she could cast 3 1st level spells + 1 1st level domain spell each day?

2. The cloisterd cleric apparently retains their turn undead ability. On one hand, I'm not horribly attatched to it, so if I need to give up that ability to keep the class balanced, I will. On the other, I could use it with the divine metamagic feat in Complete Divine. That would be a way to put more emphasis on the spellcasting aspects of my character, by giving her additional access to metamagic feats using her undead attempts.

3. I'm always paranoid about making sure that my characters are well-rounded. Meaning, I tend to try to think of situations where my character would be powerless. One thing I'm thinking of here is the fact that if she takes massive amounts of damage, she'll be unable to cast spells, even with a sky-high concentration check. Thus, my thought is to pair her spellcasting ability (as we get to higher levels) with a variety of magic items that can be used without concentration checks. And, with the use of the Magic Domain, she can use any arcane spell trigger item (like rods and wands and staffs, I believe), and any spell completion item (like scrolls) that are half her level or less. That gives her a great deal of options.

Is there any other major achilles heel I need to consider? Besides the fact that she has less hit points and can only wear light armor, of course. My thought is that she'll make good use of the sanctuary spell. After all, there's a lot a cleric can do in battle that isn't an attack spell.

4. According to the archivisit class, the archivist can learn new divine spells that are not part of the cleric spell list (such as druid spells), but they first have to track down the approapriate scrolls and scribe them into their spellbooks themselves. I really like that idea, but I'm wondering if, with everything else, that might be a little too overpowering? If need be, that's a class ability I'd consider droping.

5. I mentioned earlier that I'd like the magic, knowledge and protection domains, but I haven't yet found the perfect god. There's one that rules over magic and knowledge, and one that rules over knowledge and protection, but not all three. I could ask about working out my own diety that fits the character concept, but do you guys have any ideas of deities that might work?

6. And lastly, the lore class ability. This might be a bit too much, but I'm trying to consider how to make it a bit more mechanically effective. As it stands, the lore ability (like the bardic knowledge ability) is pretty much a roleplaying ability. And while I love to roleplay, the group I play with don't roleplay as much as I'm used to. So, I want to be sure I have abilities that will help us when we are going through dungeons and fighting lots of monsters. One option is the Dark Knowledge ability that the archivist has, but like I said, it's a little too dark for me. And I also don't like that it is focused entirely on monsters. Monsters aren't the only things that a party will come up against. There are puzzles, and humanoids, and traps too. So, I was wondering about putting together somethign simple, instead of the lore class ability, that would work similar to the dark knowedge checks. Where the archivist can make a knowledge: religion check to give their allies bonuses against undead, perhaps Kendra could use a knowledge: dungeoneering check to give her allies bonuses in their saves against traps. Something like that. Perhaps knowledge: the planes gives the party some sort of elemental resistance, and knowledge: nature helps the party make survival checks to find food or keep from losing their way. And maybe a knowledge: local check would allow the party bonuses to their diplomacy and bluff checks in a given town, due to understanding the local traditions. Something along those lines. Any ideas on how I could do this without unbalancing the class?

At the moment, I'm not in a hurry - I'm just mulling over the idea and working out different options. And any suggestions you guys can provide would be greatly appreciated.
16th-Apr-2007 05:14 am (UTC)
So, are you looking to expand the Loremaster PrC and tweak with that a bit for your actual class? The other thing you might want to do (that might take a little converting) is trying to convert the old Loremaster from the 2E Bard's handbook, as that was more what you might be looking for...

I thought some of the OGL material might have something floating around but I am not finding it yet. Still hunting though...
16th-Apr-2007 08:09 am (UTC)
They've already made this class, nearly point-for-point, in Heroes of Horror. It's a pretty awesome class.
16th-Apr-2007 08:12 am (UTC)
Looks to me that you're trying to roll the best of three or so classes into a single melting pot. It won't work, and even if the DM allows it, it'll end up being overpowered as all get out. You want a divine caster who has little to no combat ability, but gets access to three domains, other spells from other casting classes provided she can find the scrolls, and the ability to rebuke undead be obtained?

I'd honestly, honestly look at building a custom class for this. It would work, if done properly.

I'd suggest something along these lines:
Light Armors
Basic weapons (even less maybe, similar to a druid's selection, but tailored for the character.)
The ability to use her charges for Rebuke Undead to channel metamagic ONLY.
Bonus Feats that are useable only for metamagic or divine feats.
Same spell table as a cleric.
Access to extra domains every seven levels or so.

Maybe no guiding deity, but an ability to tap into almost any divinity when necessary to pool power. Might be interesting, not sure how it'd work out in play though.
16th-Apr-2007 12:13 pm (UTC)
Turn Undead, save at low levels, is rarely used as turning undead anyway. Really, it becomes ineffective pretty early on (unless you focus on it) and most higher level Clerics only use it for Divine Metamagic - so that limitation on TU doesn't really limit much.
16th-Apr-2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
That depends on what kind of games you play in as well. Most of the games i've played in, even at high level. Turn Undead gets used to well..turn cannon fodder undead as it's usually easier than wiping them up. Even so, removing that option takes away a big chunk of what is threatening to a LARGE class of monsters, I think it compensates and balances well enough.
16th-Apr-2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
Okay, I see what you (and everyone else) mean. I'm not trying to create something overpowered, so here's my question.

Similar to what you've suggested, if I took the cloistered cleric, maybe even shrank the simple weapons proficiency, like you suggested...

dropped the lore class ability and the turn undead ability...

added the archivist's spell progression...

and then, like you suggested, gained access to domains (and maybe bonus feats) every several levels...

would that be closer to a balanced class?

Would it make more sense to start with the wizard class, give them the cleric spells instead, lose the familiar, and just use some of the 'bonus feats' to get the equivalent of the 'arcane descipe' feat from complete divine (which allows an arcane spellcaster to gain the benefit of domain spells)?
16th-Apr-2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
I don't know the archivist, so you'll have to forgive my ignorance of it. What is it 's base spell progression?
16th-Apr-2007 06:15 pm (UTC)
Basically, they cast divine spells from the same spell list that clerics use, but they don't automatically know their spells. They have a divine spellbook and they gain 2 new spells each level for their spellbook, plus any spells they add to their spell book from scrolls and whatnot. Just like a wizard, really.
17th-Apr-2007 07:27 am (UTC)
Oh! That's yummy. I definitely think you should be working this as a the base class. Maybe work into a PrC? I still think building a custom class is a possibility, honestly. But everyone else seems to think it's a Bad Idea(TM).
16th-Apr-2007 12:12 pm (UTC)
3 Domains with less combat power? That's an existing cleric variant - the Cloistered Cleric.
The other parts? Already an existing class - the Archivist.

What you're doing is combining the two classes together, taking all of the advantages (save Turn Undead) and having no drawbacks, plus making one of the most powerful abilities of one class (Lore) and making it more powerful.

... by the way, Clerics do not need to worship deities - they can worship abstract concepts (read: Domains). Also, if you are a Cloistered Cleric you get the Knowledge domain regardless of whether your deity has the portfolio or not.
Your concept really fits that of a Cloistered Cleric or Archivist very, very well. Both classes are already at the high end of power and most combinations of them in a single base class would end up more powerful and thus horribly unbalanced.
16th-Apr-2007 02:50 pm (UTC)
I asked this of dek0n, but I pose the same question to you:

Similar to what dek0n suggested, if I took the cloistered cleric, maybe even shrank the simple weapons proficiency, like he suggested...

dropped the lore class ability and the turn undead ability...

added the archivist's spell progression...

and then, like he suggested, gained access to domains (and maybe bonus feats) every several levels...

would that be closer to a balanced class?

Would it make more sense to start with the wizard class, give them the cleric spell-list instead, lose the familiar, and just use some of the 'bonus feats' to get the equivalent of the 'arcane descipe' feat from complete divine (which allows an arcane spellcaster to gain the benefit of domain spells)?
16th-Apr-2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
Spell progression? The Archivist has slightly reduced progression in comparison to a Cleric (two fewer osirons or whatever the divine cantrip is called).

... are you talking about their huge selection of potential spells known? In that case, no. A cleric is already way too powerful by themselves, and that is the single strongest ability that the Archivist has, by far, and is made up for it by writing spells down in a prayerbook, d4 hit die, and crappy BAB. Turn Undead is still stronger than their other abilities even.

Are you talking about int-based casting? You'd have to drop at least 2 SP per level to pull that off, as otherwise you're a better Bard or Beguiler than a Bard or Beguiler.

You're already giving up your BAB and going to a d6 hit die to go Cloistered. I just don't see this base class combination working without unbalancing something somewhere. Sorry, I think you're asking for too much from one base class.
16th-Apr-2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
I guess I'm confused, then. If you ignore the fact that the divine archivist can learn non-clerical spells (which I'm planning on dropping), what is it that it has in spell progression that the cleric doesn't? The cleric automatically knows all their spells, the archivist doesn't. And that's what I want - I want to have to find the spells, not just automatically receive them.
16th-Apr-2007 07:54 pm (UTC) - Crap, screwed up the post, lets try again.

Okay, that makes a lot more sense. Sorry, I just wasn't getting it.
You'd be able to swap the spell systems easily then.

This is what I'd suggest:

Take the Cleric, and...

1) Increase the SP from 2+Int to 6+Int, as a Cloistered Cleric (including the new skills).
2) Drop the hit die to a d6, as a Cloistered Cleric.
3) Drop the BAB to Weak, as a CC.
4) Require a prayer book for all non-domain spells (which puts them effectively like an archivist, only you get the schnazzy domain spells without need of memorization, which makes sense).
5) Add Lore, as an Archivist (NOT as a CC, like my first post said).
6) Add the Knowledge Domain, as a CC.
7) Add the bonus spells, as a CC.
8) Drop your weaponry choice down, say to that of a Wizard.
9) Gain Turn Undead, as a Paladin instead of a Cleric.
10) Add an additional domain at level 6, 12, and 18. All restrictions

9 and 10 might not be worth it though (just be a contemplative)- you can drop both of those and still be balanced with a Cleric in my mind.

Oh, and note that this still keeps your spellcasting as Wisdom-based - that's important, as you don't want an int-based primary caster to have 6+int SP. You have only a smidgen of MAD, so you should be fine.

How is that?
16th-Apr-2007 07:01 pm (UTC)
Divine Wizard? That's an archivist already, already missing the familiar and with no domains - and archivists are STILL considered really high on the power scale for a base class.

... so no, that won't work either. My suggestion of just going to a Cloistered Cleric still stands.
16th-Apr-2007 01:52 pm (UTC)
Like others have said, you want your cake and to eat it too. (alright, I've always found that a dumb turn of phrase -- you want the best parts of 2 classes, dropping the weak parts).

First, the Cleric is already one of the strongest classes in the game. Some measure of balance is from that, rather than being showpeices, they are designed to spend significnat parts of their abilities on healing others. Taking most of the best of the class, and adding abilities, isn't going to make the class any better balanced.

My best suggestion is:
Take several levels of Archavist. When you qualify, start taking some Cleric PrCs (Divine Oracle, and a few others). Some Cleric PrCs have the additional add Domain ability, which would grant you the spells into your prayerbook and the domain ability. You can get at least 2 of your target domains this way, without much sacrifice to your spellcasting ability.
For an added bonus, speak to your DM. It is reasonable to let you power Divine Feats with your Dark Knowledge abilities rather than Turn/Rebukes.

You're not going to get it, without taking levels of Loremaster. You'll qualify for loremaster at 7th.

I see an
Archavist 5/Divine Oracle 2/Loremaster 2 with some other classes in the Build that get you domains. You could also take a single level of Cleric to get 2 domains and the TUrning (and some minor 1st level spells a day), at the lost of 1 level of spell progression.
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