Thoughts on the LevelUp 5e Playtest XIII – Cleric

I may have been a bit lax keeping up with the playtest bundles for April, but there’s also been a lot more of them. So another burst of comparisons are coming your way over the next couple of weeks!

Unlucky 13 brings us the Cleric. Let’s see what changes have been made.

Things that stay the same up to level 10:
Divine Domain and Spellcasting at level 1, Channel Divinity and a Domain Feature at level 2, and ASI at levels 4 and 8..
Things that are gone:
Armour and shield proficiencies in character creation are gone, Destroy Undead is gone (but folded in to Empowered Turning) and Divine Intervention is fone (also folded in to something called Providence).

What new stuff are we getting instead?
At character creation we have a tool proficiency choice of herbalism kit, artisan tool or musical instrument, and the saving throws are now Wisdom plus either Intelligence or Wisdom. The suggested equipment kits are called Righteous Combat, Holy Warrior and Spiritual Protector, and just by looking at them I can see that the armour in LevelUp has been changed a little. In the Players Handbook there’s a choice between scale mail, leather armour and chain mail, but here we have a mail chain shirt, brigandine scale and padded leather armour.
Then at level 1 we get a Defensive Blessing and Sacred Call, at level 2 we get Devoted Vow, at level 3 we start to choose Exploration Knacks, Sacred Office at level 4, Empowered Turning at levels 5 and 8, Sacred Presence at level 9, and lastly level 10 brings us Providence.

Maybe worth noting now, LevelUp5e said they wanted interesting choices at every level, and at level 7 there are no class features present, which I think is a first for this playtest. We still get a new Exploration Knack and 4th level spell, but that’s it.

Defensive Blessing is where the weapon, shield and armour proficiencies are coming from. Armour of Faith looks like the Monk armour abilities, giving Wisdom modifier as a bonus to AC when not wearing armour or carrying a shield, and the shield of faith spell always prepared. Sacred Archery gives proficiency in light and medium armour, and ranged martial weapons. Spirit Soldier is the default PHB proficiency set.

Sacred Call gives a choice of various social abilities. Magnetic Missionary gives proficiency in Performance and the ability to attract a crowd whilst proselytizing on any roll other than a 1. Ordination gives the cleric a formal training in priestly duties, similar to the acolyte background, and letters of introduction for other branches of the faith based elsewhere. Zeal of the Convert gives advantage to Persuasion checks when invoking the deity’s name in conversation with a pious person, or disadvantage is they don’t actually like that deity.

Devoted Vow gives the cleric a bonus in return for abstaining from something. Unlike most choices in the playtest with three or four, there’s actually six of these!
The vow of Chastity allows adding Wisdom modifier to resist being charmed, Mercy gives advantage on death saving throws after two successes as long as the cleric avoids torture or attacking the unconscious or dying, Poverty means nice discounts and free lodging for avoiding luxuries, Secrecy means using a secret identity at all times in exchange for an expertise die on Deception checks, and Silence means not speaking except to cast spells and allows the cleric to add their Wisdom modifier to Persuasion checks of others within 10 feet.
You’ll notice that’s only five. The vow of Severity means forgoing weaknesses like helping or protecting others, and allows the cleric to add their Wisdom modifier to Perception checks to find valuable objects. But Perception already uses the Wisdom modifier, so maybe that should be doubled, or add expertise instead? Maybe more likely the Investigation skill was supposed to go there.

The Exploration Knacks feel very cleric-y, which I liked, and there’s a lot more choice than some classes had.
Ancestral Guidance means casting speak with dead on a statue or painting can work, Compassionate Nurse gives an expertise die for Medicine checks and use of Wisdom for all Medicine checks, Numinous Awareness means spotting a celestial, fiend or fey pretending to be a beast and advantage to interact with magical wounds, and Voice of Doom means using Wisdom for Intimidation checks and an expertise die too.

Sacred Office affects the disposition of various groups the cleric meets in the course of adventuring, coming in a choice of Authority, Outcast or Reputation, which have been used for several of the other classes in a similar way – the rulers, the underworld, and the commoners.
Authority gives an expertise die on Insight and Persuasion checks made against local leaders the cleric is recommended to by others. Outcast gives a better reception to those who are religiously maligned, and a negative reception from the pious, and the cleric will get put in touch with a local faction that aids the community. Reputation brings the commoners to the cleric, and improves all dispositions of those they introduce the cleric to.

Empowered Turning is where we find Destory Undead, but also Command Undead, Turn Supernatual (planar beings) and also Turn Ideology, which affects alignments. In an undead-heavy game, the choice to turn, destroy or command would be useful. In a planar game, picking alignments or certain planar beings would be much more important.
You have to pick from Chaotic, Evil, Good and Lawful each time you choose Ideology, and celestial, elemental, fey or fiend for Supernatural.

Sacred Presence gives a few different bonuses and there’s no real unifying theme for them. Cosmis Idealist involves alignment traits (hopefully more on them soon) and being able to sense alignments and giving advantage on certain checks against identified creatures. Eyes of the Heart gives instant recognition of a creature telling lies or even excluding information in certain circumstances. Spiritual Salve gives allies in 30 feet a reroll on Constitution checks or saving throws (except concentration saving throws).

Providence is where we find the level 10 PHB ability Divine Intervention, but also Imminent Turning, Master Ritualist and Prayer of Protection. Imminent Turning extends the range of Turn Undead to 60 feet (I feel like this should be Eminent?). Master Ritualist gives the cleric access to all Rituals on the cleric spell list, whether they have the spell prepared or not (super powerful, but I love it). Prayer of Protection gives the cleric resistance to their choice of elemental damage until their next long rest.

All in all, some nice twists, and I’ve seen a few of these abilities in various different homebrews before.

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