Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Story of Cleric Spells

Back when I was trying to figure out how I would handle cleric spells in my campaign I made a chart of how first level cleric spells changed through the editions to help myself see what was going on. Delta has been posting some interesting stuff about how spells have changed through the editions so I dug out my chart, prettied it up, and offer it to you.

I ignored the druid spells that got pulled in during 2e, not because I don't approve of them functioning as generic priest spells, but to keep things clearer; druid had always been a separate archetype and so I keep those spells separate. There are probably errors.

The main thing I notice is the accretion over time of more spells. That makes sense. Wizard spells are more dramatic in that regard, going from 8 1st level spells to 45 by 2e.


  1. Great table- very interesting...

  2. Telecanter, you are nothing if not a tenacious taxonomist!

    I was waiting to hear back from a friend before commenting here, re: 4e 1st level cleric spells, never having played it myself. I might have guessed that it was a little more complicated, but there are apparently 14 "powers" (available during combat spells) and 8 rituals, totaling 22 spells. Compare that to 3e and make what you will of it I guess.

    Perhaps the code bloat has been checked a bit after all.

  3. Haha, if it alliterates I have to do it!

    I don't have any 4e books. I imagine I'll get them when 5e comes out and you can get them in the bargain bin. But the system as far as spells go is very different; most classes have the ability to "mark" opponents which seems very spell like to me (the marked opponent gets a penalty if they attack anyone but you) and yet all combat spells require a roll to hit (even area of affect spells) which seems very bow like to me.

    Eighty percent of the time we're playing 4e I feel like an inept bowman. But I'm probably doing it wrong.

    As a fan of mages I've always loved more spells, yet even I see a lot of spells added over time as superfluous-- could be handled with cantrips or general rulings.

    I think the number of spells that would balance interesting variety with providing game mechanics crucial to old school gameplay would be somewhere between the number in oe and 1e.