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The Cleric

This document provides suggestions and insights into how to translate the ideas of the Cleric class from the source material into Pathfinder Fate Accelerated.

"More than capable of upholding the honor of their deities in battle, clerics often prove stalwart and capable combatants.

Their true strength lies in their ability to draw upon the power of their deities, whether to increase their own and their allies' prowess in battle, to vex their foes with divine magic, or to lend healing to companions in need. As their powers are influenced by their faith, all clerics must focus their worship upon a divine source.

In faith and the miracles of the divine, many find a greater purpose. Called to serve powers beyond most mortal understanding, all priests preach wonders and provide for the spiritual needs of their people. These emissaries of the divine work the will of their deities through strength of arms and the magic of their gods.

Devoted to the tenets of the religions and philosophies that inspire them, these ecclesiastics quest to spread the knowledge and influence of their faith. Yet while they might share similar abilities, clerics prove as different from one another as the divinities they serve.

The ways of the cleric are varied, yet all who tread these paths walk with the mightiest of allies and bear the arms of the gods themselves."

Archetype Considerations

The only two Archetypes a cleric has to concern themselves with are Divine and Combatives.

Divine +3 allows unrestricted spell casting using the simple magic guidelines, which you should read first if you are serious about playing a spellcaster. Also, some sample spell write-ups are available.

Thus if you want your starting cleric to be a full caster starting out but still be able to serve as a secondary combatant (matching the source material), you should consider the Devout set of Starting Archetypes, plus one or two combat related Stunts to shore up their "warrior" facet.

Starting clerics who prefer to accentuate their ability to fight should consider the Militant set of Starting Archetypes, plus one or two divine related Stunts to shore up their "holy" facet.

It's also possible to splash a Archetype other than Combative for priests of some divine patrons.

For instance the priest of a god of thieves might go Divine & Roguish, while the priest of a god of strength and athleticism might go Divine & Focused and the priest of a god of magic might go Divine & Arcane.

Kurek is a priest of the Dwarven god Trudd the Mighty, strongest of the Dwarven pantheon. Kurek is blessed by Trudd, and entered the priesthood young. He has since progressed far and seeks to spread his god's worship amongst the Dwarves of far Varisia.

Finally, there's nothing preventing you from making a cleric that goes all in on the holiness facet, with Divine +4, such as demonstrated by the Fervent set of Starting Archetypes.

Uraska is a strange man of progressing years, well favored in the service of Nethys and learned in the ways of mysticism. Despite his progressed years and appearance as a harmless mendicant priest, Uraska commands powerful divine forces granted to him by the literal god of Magic and Destruction; he is not to be trifled with.

Sample Iconics

Kurek, Nikade, Paryl, Uraska, Vadok

Starting Archetype Sets

Fervent

Divine +4

Devout

Divine +3, Combative +1

Militant

Divine +2, Combative +2

Support / Utility

The source material offers clerics as full casting support characters with an array of options including buffing, debuffing, status effect removal, and healing.

Secondary Tank / Striker

Additionally, a cleric can serve as a secondary tank and / or a secondary striker, and choice of deity and domains affords a good level of individualization.

Alignment / Code of Conduct

The primary downside of the cleric in the source material is alignment restrictions and a vague requirement to not fall from the faith of their chosen deity.

Generally this isn't as severe as a paladin's alignment and code of conduct, but it does impose some restrictions on a cleric's freedom of expression.

Diverging From Source Material

The cleric is a solid and flexible class in the source material, but Pathfinder Fate Accelerated offers even more flexibility to personalize your cleric to make a character that is as distinctive as they are capable.

Pathfinder Fate Accelerated joyfully dispenses with the alignment concept altogether; "goodness" and "evilness" and "lawfulness" and etc. can be a thing, but it is based upon interpretation of Aspects and deeds.

If you want to play a "lawful good" character and that means something to you personally, so be it.

Pick your character's High Concept, Trouble, and Aspects appropriately to further that ideal and then portray your character accordingly.

But there's no mechanical impact other than what is ordinarily available in Fate Accelerated.

Feel free to personalize your cleric to have abilities particularly suited to their deity's focus and fluff.

This will not only make your character more distinctive and memorable, it will also make the character's choice of deity matter more to the story.

The only limiter is whether the group or GM wants to maintain the arbitrary restrictions of the source material or not.

As a player interested in expressing their creativity you should first check with your GM to determine what they will and wont allow.

Nature Priests

Nature priests of gods like Erastil and Gozreh are an odd breed, as in D&D the difference between druids and priests who worship gods with nature related portfolios has always been an area where the class system shows its rough edges. But in Pathfinder Fate Accelerated terms a priest of a nature god can go Divine +1, Primal +3, which abstracts away from the problem.

This will allow your character to have appropriate levels of competence in natural settings. If you don't want your character's casting to suffer from having split Archetypes, you might also take a Stunt similar to Nature Priest but it isn't required.

Nature Priest: Because I worship a nature deity I am in tune with both divine and primal forces. When using Primal to work magic I may add my Divine capability as a bonus.

Note that while the concept of a vague "green faith" also exists in the source material Primal amply covers that idea on its own; Divine is not necessary.

Vadok is a simple, earnest man dedicated to the service of the nature god Erastil, Old Deadeye. Also a skilled archer and accompanied by a powerful divinely invested puma named Aadat, Vadok is a erstwhile defender of common rustic folk and the ideal of man living in harmony with nature.

Nikade is a confident and tempestuous young man dedicated to the service of the volatile nature god Gozreh, the master of Wind and Wave. Armed with a divinely invested harpoon, and capable of bending the very weather to his will when necessary, Nikade is a powerful exponent of his unpredictable patron's interests in the material world.

Approach Considerations

A cleric's choice of Approaches will usually be influenced by their patron deity and the nature of their priesthood.

But stereotypically clerics are often Careful under ordinary circumstances, Forceful when smiting those who oppose their religion's goals, and Flashy when spouting litanies, prayers, and calls for divine aid.

What Kind Of Cleric, Exactly?

Generally speaking, when defining a character in Pathfinder Fate Accelerated that you envision falling into the "cleric" category, you might start out by asking yourself the following questions:

Whom Do You Serve?

The first question is probably the most important for framing the nature of your character. You can use the choice of divine patron to guide your decisions about your character's Aspects and Stunts, and to inform your portrayal.

Role?

Unlike some of the other class concepts coming from the source material, the cleric can be individualized to fill a variety of roles. Similarly, when you make a cleric character in Pathfinder Fate Accelerated, you get to decide what role you want your cleric to attempt to fill.

You might intend for your cleric to be a front line combatant, helping a group to succeed in conflicts. Or perhaps you want to play a "face" or leader cleric who takes point in social encounters. Or you might want your cleric to be a problem-solver or "support" character who is either specialized to address a particular niche or generalized to have a broad range of "utility" allowing them to adapt to emerging challenges that the group might face in their adventures. And of course, your cleric might attempt to fill more than one role or not be intentionally designed to fit any particular role as you prefer.

Contemplative or Evangelist?

Some clerics are portrayed as being inwardly focused, responsible for their own deeds and conduct. This sort of cleric can generally get along with others and cooperate towards a common goal with people of different viewpoints, at least to some extent. This is conducive to party dynamics and getting things done. However, it can also be quite dull.

Other clerics are portrayed as being outwardly focused, intent on imposing the worship of their religion and the tenets of their patron upon the world. This sort of cleric often has a difficult time working and playing well with others, and often finds themselves embroiled in some kind of strife due to their evangelical overtures and intolerance for other beliefs. This can make for some great drama, but on the other hand it can also get quite stale and annoying.

Regardless of where your cleric is at on that spectrum, thinking about it now will guide your choice of High Concept and Trouble. It will also indicate if you plan to portray the character in an antagonistic or cooperative manner relative to other player characters.

Dedicated Caster or All-Arounder?

If you intend for your cleric to be a dedicated caster of Divine spells, this will guide your selection of Archetype bonuses and possibly of one or more Stunts.

However if you want your character to have some of the stereotypical features of clerics in the source material, such as Channel Energy or Turn Undead, or you want to have a signature ability relevant to your cleric's patron deity, you'll need to allocate one or more Stunt slots to them.

Paryl is a wandering priest greatly favored by Desna, goddess of Luck, Stars, Travel, and Dreams. On an endless journey, Paryl aids those met along the road, but his usually kind and generous nature turns hard and merciless when dealing with bandits or any who would interfere with the sanctity of traveling.

Stunts

Cleric characters might find the following Stunt categories of interest: Deific, Warrior, Durability, Command.

The following Stunts are offered as samples that might be relevant for some clerics.

However, the best Stunts are those that are tailor made to fit your concept, so don't hesitate to come up with your own or work with your GM to define something that is "just right" for your character.

Faith Worthiness

Clerics that are granted abilities by their patrons can lose access to those abilities if they do something unworthy of their faith; thus such Stunts typically include language to that effect.

This is left to the GM's discretion, but it isn't intended to create antagonistic situations. Ultimately a player should have a large measure of control over their character's story; any failings of faith should be regarded as a roleplaying opportunity.

See the Stunt options document for ideas on how to do this.

Holy Holy

Clerics are invested with divine power by their patron deities, though the nature of such favor varies from deity to deity, or even from individual to individual.

Detect Evil: Because I am sensitive to ethical and moral propensities, I am able to sense strong concentrations of immorality and evilness in individuals, objects, and areas from six (6) zones away even if the source in not detectable to my other senses. Additionally, I gain +2 to notice relevant concentrations of evil while Focused.

Divine Aegis: Because my patron deity protects me I may use Divine to defend against non-Divine magical and unusual attacks without needing to first create an advantage to invoke, unless I have recently done something unworthy of my faith.

Divine Favor: Because I am favored by my patron deity, I may add my Divine capability as a bonus to defend against physical attacks, unless I have recently done something unworthy of my faith.

Divine Renewal: Because I am favored by my patron deity, when I am Carefully Divine I may pray for aid to clear a stress box or a Mild Consequence, or to downgrade a Moderate or Severe Consequence, by overcoming a difficulty equal to the stress box's or Consequence's numerical value. This only works on my own stress and Consequences, not that of others. If I fail to overcome the difficulty I may not attempt to clear the same stress box or heal the same Consequence again; I must wait for it to clear by other means. I cannot use this ability if I have recently done something unworthy of my faith

Favored Follower: Because I am favored by my patron deity, once per scene when I spend a fate point to get a reroll I may proceed as if I had rolled +2 on the dice instead of rolling a second time. I may not use this ability if I have recently done something unworthy of my faith.

Fervent Prayer: Because my faith is strong, I am sometimes especially blessed by my god. I may spend a Fate point to gain +2 Divine on one (1) action and pray for blessings appropriate to that level of Divine capability. I may not use this ability if I have recently done something unworthy of my faith.

Shield of Faith: Because I am favored by my patron deity, I may add my Divine capability as a bonus to defend against indirect attacks such as poisons and strange abilities and magic, unless I have recently done something unworthy of my faith.

True Seeing: Because my patron diety grants me awareness, my powers of observation are divinely enhanced; I may use Divine instead of Focused to notice or perceive things, and I can sense things that require mystical awareness to detect.

Defender Of The Faith

Many clerics are martially capable, able to serve as defenders of their faith and the faithful. Some rely purely on skill, while others benefit from blessings that aid them in battle.

Combative Aegis: Because I have developed my defensive form to a high degree of skill, when I am Carefully Combative and appropriately equipped, if someone else in my zone is physically attacked I may defend on their behalf. However I take any shifts of damage that get past my defenses, rather than the intended target.

Damage Reduction: Because I am more durable than normal, I reduce by one (1) all stress inflicted on me by physical and magical attacks.

Divine Weapon (-2): Because I am favored by my patron deity, I have been graced with a divinely empowered weapon. If I have recently done something unworthy of my faith, the weapon loses its special abilities until I have atoned.

Divine Blade, Aura Of Protection

Good At: Blocking (+2), Cutting (+2)

Bad At: Going Unnoticed (-2)

Stress [1][2][3]

Mild (2)

See Special Items for details.

This item requires Divine +2 or better to use.

Forbidding Presence: Because I present a very intimidating and stern visage while emanating a frightenting aura, I gain +1 when being Flashy and attempting to frighten or demoralize.

Heavy Armor Training: Because I have trained to wear heavy armor extensively, I gain +1 to Combatives to defend when I am heavily armored.

Holy Hand Grenades: Because my patron favors me, I am able to craft special reliquaries containing holy power that are released upon impact when thrown, inflicting harm on evil outsiders, undead, and other unnatural creatures nearby. I cannot use this ability if I have recently done something unworthy of my faith.

When I am Quickly Focused I gain +1 to throw a holy hand grenade into my zone or an adjacent zone, generally against an Average (+1) difficulty.

If I am successful, my holy hand grenade explodes and inflicts a number of shifts of damage equal to my (Careful + Divine) against every eligible target in the zone without splitting shifts between them. Malign outsiders (such as demons, devils, daemons, and proteans), undead, and other similar unnatural creatures are considered to be eligible for this effect.

For a given session I can carry around and use a number of holy hand grenades equal to my (Careful + Divine). Other people can not use my holy hand grenades.

This stunt requires Divine +1 or better to use.

Indomitable: Because I refuse to give in and I always vigorously protect myself, I get +1 when I am Forceful and defend if I am aware that I am in danger.

Inspiring Leadership: Because I inspire my allies and followers, any allies who join me in battle gain +1 on all actions they take within a conflict while being Combative. Allies must be within three (3) zones and within line of sight of me to benefit from my leadership. This ability applies for the duration of the conflict even if I am taken out, as my allies are moved to protect or avenge me.

Push Beyond The Edge: Because I fight to the bitter end no matter what the cost, at any time as a non action if my Severe consequence is currently clear I may choose to either worsen my Moderate consequence (if any) to a Severe consequence or take a new Severe consequence Pushed Myself Too Far to clear my Mild Consequences and all my Stress boxes.

Rally Leader: Because I am able to inspire my allies to regroup and rally, once per scene I can give a motivating monologue or shout out words of courage and valor to allow all allies within one (1) zone of me to clear one of their stress boxes or a Mild consequence.

Resilience: Because of my impressive resilience, once per session if I would take a Consequence I may instead spend a Fate point.

Smite: Because I have been granted the ability to smite those who stand against me by my patron deity, I gain +1 while Combative to strike down a foe within my zone whose nature is anathemic to my patron deity; further if my attack inflicts a consequence I gain an additional free invoke on it.

Smite The Unworthy: Because I am favored by my patron deity, when I am being Combative I may add my Divine capability to attack opponents who I know to be beyond redemption, unless I have recently done something unworthy of my faith.

Weapon Mastery (-3): Because I have spent many years mastering a type of weapon, I gain +1 to Combatives when I attack, defend, create advantage, or overcome while using any weapon of that type.

Suffer Not The Undead

Some clerics of faiths that find the Undead to be particularly offensive abominations are graced with the ability to destroy or turn any Undead they may encounter.

Destroy Undead: Because I am particularly good at destroying lesser undead, while Flashily Divine I may overcome to destroy an Undead mook in my zone or an adjacent zone; the difficulty is equal to the number of hits the mook has remaining. This does work on mobs of nameless Undead mooks, but it does not work on significant NPC Undead that have consequences.

Turn Undead: When I am Divine and attack I may target all Undead in my zone or in an adjacent zone without having to split my shifts between them.

Turn Undead (-2): When I am Divine and attack I may target all Undead in my zone and all adjacent zones without having to split my shifts between them.

Option: Prepared Casting

Pathfinder Fate Accelerated allows free casting by default, but some players might prefer their cleric to be a Prepared Caster; see the magic options guidelines for more information.

A common trope of the source material is the so-called "Vancian" magic concept, wherein some kinds of spellcasters must "prepare" or "memorize" spells chosen from their list of "known spells" and / or a "spellbook" ahead of time, and have a limited number of slots determined by their "caster level" and rated in "spell levels".

It's all a bit cumbersome, adds a lot of bookkeeping and extra verbiage, and also forces that type of character to guess what spells they'll need through the course of the day and then puts pressure on them to hoard their memorized spells like a miser. But, it does have the benefit of long familiarity, and some people enjoy the extra mental challenge and tension it instills.

Pathfinder Fate Accelerated allows free-casting without spell per day or even hard spell level limits. This is a fast and loose style of play, and it's weighted so as to keep spellcasters roughly equivalent in potency to non-spellcasters. However, if the GM and group want to include prepared casting semantics into their game, it can be "turned" on for a given character at the cost of a Stunt.

The below Stunt is appropriate for Divine characters such as clerics, who must have Divine +2 or better to qualify for it. Note that this allows a character with less than Divine +3 to cast more than cantrips; the low number of uses and lack of free-casting compensates.

Prepared Caster (Divine)

Because of my devotion to my patron deity, each morning I may 'prepare' a number of 'prayers' equal to ((Careful + Flashy) * Divine).

To prepare a prayer I roll 4dF against a Mediocre (+0) difficulty, adding a preparation bonus equal to double my Divine bonus.

I temporarily gain a new personal Aspect corresponding to the prayer I prepared with one invoke, and annotated with the margin of success.

Later during the day I may 'cast' a prepared prayer by invoking its Aspect as an action and resolving the prayer using the previously rolled margin of success.

Using Spell Write-ups

If I am preparing a prayer from a write-up that indicates an Approach be combined with Divine to cast the prayer, with language such as 'while Flashily Divine', I ignore the requirement and use my prepared bonus instead.

If I am preparing a prayer from a write-up that states a particular difficulty level, with language such as 'vs a Good (+3) difficulty)', the previously rolled margin of success is applied against the stated difficulty when I 'cast' it; any remaining shifts can be allocated per the simple magic guidelines.

It is possible for a prayer resolution to fail if the margin of success is insufficient to the difficulty or if I am opposed successfully. I can spend a Fate point at this time to add +2 shifts to the margin of success.

Unfortunately due to my focus on prepared casting, I cannot free cast anything other than simple divine effects known as orisons.

NOTE: as Prepared Casting is handled as a Stunt and Fate Accelerated characters are allowed to swap Stunts at milestones, it is technically possible for strange shenanigans to come up. However, it is recommended that Prepared Casting Stunts be anchored by a character's High Concept, and can thus only be taken or removed when an appropriate High Concept is taken or changed. This equates to character creation and major milestones, and avoids casual fluctuations.

Known Spells List

As a rule of thumb prepared casters start play knowing about twice as many spells as they can cast per day. Thus a prepared caster than can prepare twelve (12) spells per day would start play knowing around twentyfour (24) spells, give or take a couple. However to avoid forcing a player to go through the chore of picking them all up front, which is a bar to starting play, with the GM's permission a player can just select enough spells to start the game and retroactively add more to the list of known spells as they are thought up until they hit their limit.

Finally, prepared casters can learn more spells after play starts as they encounter scrolls and spellbooks. How long it takes, whether a roll is involved, hand-waved or played out...Pathfinder Fate Accelerated prefers to focus on narrative driven play and doesn't take a stance on bookkeeping minutia where it can be avoided. Therefore it is assumed to take some "off screen" time to learn new spells by default, but the entire matter is left to the GM's discretion.

Some sample spells are provided, and players are also free to come up with their own per GM's discretion.

Pros and Cons of Prepared Casting

There are some interesting permutations to the choice to play a prepared caster. Prepared casters:

  • Get a large bonus on their roll to prepare.
  • Can apply spells that they are pretty sure are going to work to a situation, because they already know how many shifts are available to the spell rather than having to hope they succeed at a 4dF roll at the time of casting.
  • Don't have to use create advantage actions when the "heat is on" to set up more esoteric spells, offering better action economy.
  • Get potentially far fewer spells per day than characters using the free-casting model, but as the saying goes "enough is as good as a feast". Eventually a prepared caster can cast a sufficient number of spells to get through a typical session of play.
  • Excel if sessions are short as their limited number of spells is mitigated.
  • Lag if sessions are longer with multiple encounters.
  • Lag if the player guesses wrong about what will be useful, or runs out of spells too soon, or hoards their spells so tightly they end up not doing anything.

Prepared Casting Example

For instance, Amarzedrin can prepare up to twelve (12) spells per day. Each time he prepares a spell, he rolls 4dF and adds +8 (his Arcane bonus, doubled). One morning he prepares Fireball (and eleven (11) other spells). For the Fireball preparation he rolls ++-[] for a total of +9. Amarzedrin's player writes down the personal Aspect "Prepared Fireball (+9) [ ]" on a scrap of paper.

Because it is useful to this example, it makes sense that later in the day Amarzedrin is confronted by a couple of mobs of goblins (represented as mooks), damn the luck.

Deciding to not waste time and risk injury, Amarzedrin invokes Prepared Fireball. The Prepared Fireball Aspect is removed from play as it has been expended, and the nine (9) shifts from his margin of success are used to power a Fireball spell effect.

Amarzedrin splits his nine (9) shifts into a group of five (5) shifts and a group of four (4) shifts and allocates each set of shifts as stress to the two goblin mobs. The first group of goblins defends at +0 (they are not spellcasters, and have no relevant skill-like abilities) and roll +--- for a total of -2. Amarzedrin succeeds with style and may take a boost at the cost of a shift; but for purposes of the example he opts to just blow them up.

The second group of goblins is actually a goblin pyromancer and his apprentice...of course! They have a relevant Fire Magic skill-like ability at +3, and roll +++- for a total of Superb (+5), and defend successfully. Looks like Amarzedrin has a fight on his hands.